KCTV
Now playing
01:14
North Korea's revered news anchor
CNN
Now playing
02:35
Photos show N. Korea improving nuclear facility
KCTV
Now playing
02:06
North Korea shakes up its military leadership
CNN
Now playing
02:51
CNN reporter's surreal journey inside N. Korea
Hyon Song-Wol (C), the leader of North Korea's popular Moranbong band, arrives at Seoul station in Seoul on January 21, 2018 before boarding a train bound for the eastern city of Gangneung.
North Korean delegates arrived in Seoul on January 21 on their way to inspect venues and prepare cultural performances for next month's Winter Olympics, in the first visit by Pyongyang officials to the South for four years. / AFP PHOTO / KOREA POOL / - / South Korea OUT        (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
-/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Hyon Song-Wol (C), the leader of North Korea's popular Moranbong band, arrives at Seoul station in Seoul on January 21, 2018 before boarding a train bound for the eastern city of Gangneung. North Korean delegates arrived in Seoul on January 21 on their way to inspect venues and prepare cultural performances for next month's Winter Olympics, in the first visit by Pyongyang officials to the South for four years. / AFP PHOTO / KOREA POOL / - / South Korea OUT (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:44
Who is North Korean pop star Hyon Song Wol?
north korea kim jung un new year speech hancocks lklv_00005209.jpg
Korean Central TV
north korea kim jung un new year speech hancocks lklv_00005209.jpg
Now playing
02:20
Kim Jong Un delivers New Year's address
Now playing
00:49
North Korea's largest textile factory
Now playing
00:51
Communal living in Pyongyang
Now playing
01:01
A glimpse of life in Pyongyang
This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 16, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (R) inspecting a launching drill of the medium-and-long range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 at an undisclosed location.
Kim vowed to complete North Korea's nuclear force despite sanctions, saying the final goal of his country's weapons development is "equilibrium of real force" with the United States, state media reported on September 16.  NK leadership watch says:  Kim Jong Un watches a missile drill on September 15, 2017. Also in attendance behind him are Kim Jong Sik and Ri Pyong Chol (Photo: KCNA).
STR/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 16, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (R) inspecting a launching drill of the medium-and-long range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 at an undisclosed location. Kim vowed to complete North Korea's nuclear force despite sanctions, saying the final goal of his country's weapons development is "equilibrium of real force" with the United States, state media reported on September 16. NK leadership watch says: Kim Jong Un watches a missile drill on September 15, 2017. Also in attendance behind him are Kim Jong Sik and Ri Pyong Chol (Photo: KCNA).
Now playing
02:33
Inside story of N. Korean smuggler's paradise
Now playing
00:56
The home of a North Korean Workers' Party member
A North Korean defector darts across the DMZ dividing the two Koreas in this screenshot of handout video provided by the United Nations Command.
United Nations Command
A North Korean defector darts across the DMZ dividing the two Koreas in this screenshot of handout video provided by the United Nations Command.
Now playing
03:05
Video shows North Korean defector's escape
North Korean soldiers (R) look at the South side while US Vice President Mike Pence (not pictured) visits the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on the border between North and South Korea on April 17, 2017.
Pence arrived at the gateway to the Demilitarised Zone dividing the two Koreas, in a show of US resolve a day after North Korea failed in its attempt to test another missile. / AFP PHOTO / JUNG Yeon-Je        (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
North Korean soldiers (R) look at the South side while US Vice President Mike Pence (not pictured) visits the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on the border between North and South Korea on April 17, 2017. Pence arrived at the gateway to the Demilitarised Zone dividing the two Koreas, in a show of US resolve a day after North Korea failed in its attempt to test another missile. / AFP PHOTO / JUNG Yeon-Je (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:40
What it's really like to be inside North Korea
Kim Yo Jong, the youngest sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, seen in March 2014.
KCNA via Getty Images
Kim Yo Jong, the youngest sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, seen in March 2014.
Now playing
02:14
Kim Jong Un promotes his sister (2017)
This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on October 29, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) inspecting the Pyongyang Cosmetics Factory, as his wife Ri Sol-Ju (R) looks on. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / STR / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT   ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP.  /         (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
STR/AFP/Getty Images
This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on October 29, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) inspecting the Pyongyang Cosmetics Factory, as his wife Ri Sol-Ju (R) looks on. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / STR / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
03:08
Kim Jong Un's wife makes rare public appearance
KCTV
Now playing
00:44
Watch: N. Korea performance shows US in flames

Story highlights

North Korea's most famous newsreader has been on air for more than 40 years

This year, she's announced a "successful" satellite launch and hydrogen bomb test

CNN —  

One of North Korea’s most familiar faces is back.

Television anchor Ri Chun-hee delivered the news Sunday that the country had successfully sent a satellite into space.

“The fascinating vapor of Juche satellite trailing in the clear and blue sky in spring of February on the threshold of the Day of the Shining Star, the greatest national holiday of Kim Il Sung’s Korea, is a gift of most intense loyalty…” she said, after announcing details of the launch.

Just one month ago, Ri appeared before the nation – and the world – to announce that Pyongyang had tested a hydrogen bomb.

Who is Ri Chun-hee?

North Korea’s most famous anchor was reportedly born in 1943 and trained as an actress before taking to the air with North Korea’s only television channel in 1971.

Known as the “people’s broadcaster” she then graced the nation’s screens for the next 40 years, using her extensive dramatic range to deliver broadcasts in a variety of tones – ranging from the mournful to the downright menacing.

While out of the limelight lately, Ri Chun-hee has held the nation’s hand through many a difficult moment.

She broke the news of the passing of Supreme Leader Kim Il Sung in 1994, weeping her way through the broadcast.

She stoically reassured the population during escalated tension between North Korea and South Korea in 2010, and gravely wept again when second-generation leader Kim Jong Il died in 2011.

Speak ‘gently’ to viewers

But in 2012, the 69-year-old gave an interview to CCTV announcing she was ready to take a back seat.

“Many anchor women now are very young and beautiful,” she conceded modestly. “And far more suitable to appear before the viewers.”

She also let the Chinese broadcaster into some of her tricks of the trade; she informed them she believed every anchor should have their own style to impress viewers with. She also said that different tones should be adopted, depending on the subject matter.

“When we read to the DPRK (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the country’s official name) we shouldn’t sound as if we are shouting, but speak gently to viewers,” she said.

She then exemplified her “mild” tone with a friendly and impromptu Lunar New Year broadcast.

Her colorful demeanor has garnered her more than a few Internet admirers over the years. She’s been satirized both abroad and at home, has more than one Facebook group to her name. In 2010 she briefly became a Chinese viral hit.

But what she’s better known for across the English-speaking world is the tone she employs for matters of serious gravitas.

“It’s a hate filled voice,” Brian Myers, North Korean propaganda analyst at Busan’s Dongeso University told PRI’s “The World.”

“It kind of reminds me of what George Orwell was talking about in 1984, when he talked about the two-minute hate.”

“It’s a voice just laden with scorn and hate.”