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North Korea’s ‘pink lady’ replaced by younger presenters as state TV gets makeover

North Korea’s most famous news anchor has reportedly been replaced by younger presenters as the country’s state-owned broadcaster undergoes a modern makeover.

Ri Chun-hee began working for North Korean TV in 1971 and became chief news presenter of KCTV in the 1980s.

Nicknamed the “pink lady,” she usually wears a pink Western-style suit or traditional Hanbok dress.

She has been characterised by her animated announcing style, resonant voice and sometimes vitriolic tone, and was once described as “vaguely menacing”.

But the 75-year-old presenter – who cried onscreen when announcing the deaths of Kim II-sung and Kim Jong-il – has not been seen on KCTV for a while.

She has instead has been replaced by younger hosts as North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, strives to modernise the communist state.

According to a report in ABC News, the 33-year-old leader’s main motto “is to catch up with the new century and its trends”.

“We could say that change in direction has been reflected on to programme productions,” Professor Kang Dong-wan told the network.

The changes may also reflect how North Korean viewers have become increasingly exposed to information from the outside world, including programmes from South Korea.

It means that Ms Ri’s style of presenting news, along with the old KCTV programming, does not sink in anymore, Mr Kang explained.

Ms Ri announces the news on a big screen in front of Pyongyang railway station
Image:
Ms Ri announces the news on a big screen in front of Pyongyang railway station

Ms Ri’s absence has also been attributed to her semi-retirement.

Recent changes to KCTV’s storytelling methods include an increasing focus on people rather than ideology.

While past programmes have centred on the country’s “great leaders” and their achievements, recent programmes have featured soundbites from women in a cosmetics factory, students showing off new mobile phones and kitchen staff at a pizza restaurant.

Journalists are now reporting in the field frequently and have begun talking in a more informal, conversational tone while wearing bright, modern clothes.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un shakes hands with US President Donald Trump during a historic summit of the two nations.
Image:
Kim Jong-Un shakes hands with Donald Trump during a historic summit of the two nations

Previous programmes were produced mainly using voice-overs and rarely featured reporters on screen.

In steps taken towards modernising North Korea, Mr Kim held a summit meeting with US President Donald Trump in June. It was the first-ever meeting between leaders of the US and North Korea.

He has also met other leaders, including South Korea’s Moon Jae-in, in which Mr Kim agreed to dismantle the North’s nuclear weapons facilities if the US took reciprocal action.

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