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‘Pink Lady’: North Korea’s star presenter who announced missile launch

Ri Chun-Hee is believed to be in her early 70s has appeared whenever North Korea wants to boast of its latest achievements or needs to make an important announcement

world Updated: Nov 29, 2017 14:40 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
North Korea,Ri Chun Hee,North Korea TV presenter
Ri Chun-Hee makes a special announcement on North Korea's state-run television after the country launched a missile, in this still image taken from a video released by KRT.(Handout via Reuters Photo)

North Korea summoned its star presenter, the ‘Pink Lady’, to make another special announcement.

On Tuesday, Ri Chun-Hee announced on state media broadcast that the country had successfully launched a new type of ballistic missile, which Pyongyang claims is its most powerful weapon.

Wearing her trademark pink and black traditional Korean dress, Ri said North Korea had successfully fired a “significantly more” powerful, nuclear-capable ICBM it called the Hwasong-15.

“Kim Jong-Un declared with pride that now we have finally realised the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force, the cause of building a rocket power,” she said.

“The great success in the test-fire of ICBM Hwasong-15 is a priceless victory won by the great and heroic people of the DPRK,” she said, using the official abbreviated name for North Korea.

Wednesday’s missile was more sophisticated than any previously tested, state media said.

The presenter — believed to be in her early 70s and born to a poor family in Tongchong — has appeared whenever North Korea wants to boast of its latest achievements or needs to make an important announcement.

Ri wept on air when she was announcing the deaths of North Korea’s founder Kim Il-Sung and his son Kim Jong-Il, according to The Guardian.

The actress-turned-newscaster studied performance art at the Pyongyang University of Theatre and first took to the air in 1971, when the state TV channel was launched. Her face is one of the few broadcasts abroad and her stentorian reports thunder across airwaves from the land where leader Kim Jong un rarely speaks.

South Korean soldiers walk by a TV screen showing the live broadcast about North Korea's missile launch, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea. (AP Photo)

In September, she was recalled from retirement to confirm North’s fifth nuclear test.

“Slightly plump, with permed black hair, she has become an institution whose bombastic delivery decries the miseries inflicted upon the state by a hostile world while celebrating its military triumphs,” says a Reuters description of Ri.

In a government statement released through state media, North Korea said the Hwasong-15, the “greatest ICBM,” could be armed with a “super-large heavy nuclear warhead” and is capable of striking the “whole mainland” of the United States. The North said the missile reached a height of 4,475 kilometres and travelled 950 kilometres before accurately hitting a sea target, similar to the flight data announced by South Korea’s military.

The missile was launched from near Pyongyang and it landed inside of Japan’s special economic zone in the Sea of Japan.

“The ICBM Hwasong-15 type weaponry system is an intercontinental ballistic rocket tipped with super-large heavy warhead which is capable of striking the whole mainland of the US,” the North’s official news agency KCNA said.

State TV also said Kim gave the order on Tuesday and broadcast a photo of Kim’s signed order where he wrote: “Test launch is approved. Taking place at the daybreak of Nov. 29! Fire with courage for the party and country!”

(With agency inputs)

First Published: Nov 29, 2017 14:36 IST