By HYUNG-JIN KIM, Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Ri Chun Hi, North Korea’s most famous state television anchor, has announced major events for decades, including nuclear and missile tests and the death of a leader, with an instantly recognizable passionate voice.

The anchor, dubbed the ‘pink lady’ overseas for her bright Korean traditional attire, became the subject of official North Korean media herself on Thursday after leader Kim Jong Un gave her a luxurious residence and asked to continue to be the voice of his decision. Workers’ Party.

Experts say Kim is offering special treatment to North Korea’s elite to bolster their loyalty as he grapples with the pandemic, a struggling economy and a stalemate in nuclear diplomacy with the United States.

“(Kim) said it was the sincerity of the party that he would spare nothing for a national treasure like her, who has worked as a revolutionary announcer for the party for over 50 years since she was a child,” said the Korea’s official Central News Agency. mentioned. Kim expressed her “hope that she would always vigorously pursue her work in good health, as befits a party spokeswoman.”

Political cartoons about world leaders

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Kim met Ri, who is about 79, on Wednesday after inaugurating a new terraced riverside residential area in the capital Pyongyang, KCNA said. He said houses in the district were presented to Ri and others who have rendered distinguished service to the state.

North Korea often inaugurates construction projects to mark key state anniversaries. Friday is the 110th birthday of Kim’s late grandfather, state founder Kim Il Sung. It is the most important anniversary in North Korea, which has been ruled by three generations of the Kim family since its founding in 1948. The new housing area is where Kim Il’s official residence was. Sung until the 1970s.

Pyongyang is North Korea’s showcase city, and its elite residents enjoy relatively affluent lives compared to residents of remote rural areas where many still suffer from poverty and malnutrition. The majority of North Koreans who have fled the country in the past two decades have come from its northern regions near the border with China.

“By giving houses to those who have been loyal to him, Kim Jong Un would like to further strengthen their loyalty and internal unity,” said Moon Seong Mook, an analyst at the Korea Research Institute for National Strategy, based in Seoul. “Ri Chun Hi is a clear example of such people as she heavily publicized her nuclear and missile tests and served as her bugler.”

Kim visited Ri’s house with her and held her hand as they walked down the stairs. Ri said she felt like her new home felt like a hotel, and all of her family members “stayed up all night in tears of deep gratitude for the benevolence of the party,” according to KCNA.

Ri then used her exaggerated speaking technique to narrate a state television video of Kim showing her the house.

Ri joined state television in the early 1970s, when the country was still ruled by Kim Il Sung, and she gradually became the face and voice of the country’s propaganda-focused news broadcasts.

Her close ties to Kim were shown last year at a government founding anniversary ceremony when she watched from an elevated veranda right next to Kim, and at one point laid her hand on his shoulder and whispered to him. At another event, she was the first person to shake Kim’s hand before holding her arm and posing for a group photo.

Moon, the analyst, said Ri was receiving Cabinet-level treatment at home, appeared to be in good health and should continue to handle key TV ads for at least the next few years.

Ri’s passionate and effusive style has occasionally sparked laughs in other countries. In 2011, a Taiwanese television station apologized after one of its newsreaders mimicked the tone used by Ri when she announced the death of Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il.

Since inheriting power on the death of his father, Kim Jong Un, 38, has ruled North Korea with absolute authority. But he faces one of the toughest times of his reign after the coronavirus pandemic shocked an economy already in dire straits due to mismanagement and sanctions imposed by the United States. Analysts say the recent missile tests were aimed at advancing its arsenal of weapons and pressuring the United States to recognize North Korea as a nuclear state and ease international sanctions.

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