North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has gifted a home to a broadcaster who's been a major voice of the ruling Workers' Party for the past 50 years. Ri Chun Hi, dubbed the "pink lady" for her pink, often traditional clothing, has reported some of the biggest news stories in North Korea since joining state TV in the early 1970s. She's sobbed through reports on the deaths of former leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il and gleefully boasted of the country's ability to "strike anywhere in the mainland United States" following a 2017 intercontinental ballistic missile launch. "When Ri announced reports and statements, enemies would tremble in fear," according to a 2009 profile in a state-run magazine, per the Guardian.
She became "the topic of official North Korean media herself Thursday" as Kim showed her around her new home, part of a just-unveiled terraced residential district along a river in Pyongyang, per the AP. The leader "said it is the sincerity of the party that there is nothing to spare for the treasures of the country like her who has worked as a revolutionary announcer for the party for more than 50 years," the Korean Central News Agency said. Ri appears close to Kim. While seated next to him at a 2021 military parade, she "put her hand on his shoulder and whispered to him at one point," per the AP. KCNA noted Kim took care with the broadcaster, aged roughly 79, "while going up and down the stairs" of her new home.
Family members of Ri, who was reportedly born into poverty, "stayed up all night in tears of deep gratitude for the party's benevolence," KCNA reported. It said homes were also presented to others with distinguished service to the state. Such gifts are meant to "further bolster their royalty and internal unity," Moon Seong Mook, an analyst with the Seoul-based Korea Research Institute for National Strategy, tells the AP. He adds Ri is likely to continue as the face of state TV for the next few years. Despite old reports indicating she was to be replaced by younger hosts, KCNA said Kim expressed "expectation that she would as ever vigorously continue her work in good health as befitting a spokeswoman for the party." (Read more North Korea stories.)