When North Korea’s government told its public about leader Kim Jong-un’s upcoming “historic meeting” in Singapore with Donald Trump, the US president, the announcement fell inevitably to Ri Chun-hee .
Mrs Ri, who has been reading the news on North Korean state television since 1971, revealed the news that Kim had landed in the Asian city-state 3,000 miles south of Pyongyang in her usual quavering, triumphant tones.
In a seven minute morning bulletin she told North Koreans that their leader had met with Lee Hsien Loong, the Singaporean prime minister, ahead of a Tuesday meeting with Mr Trump on peace and denuclearisation.
Mrs Ri was last seen in April, announcing another unprecedented meeting between Kim and Moon Jae-in, the South Korean president, in the border village of Panmunjom in the demilitarised zone that divides the Korean Peninsula.
She read out the leader’s Panmunjom Declaration in full after the meeting concluded with a bear hug – and said the encounter opened the way “for national reconciliation and unity, peace and prosperity”.
State television broadcast several minutes of footage from the meeting, including the leaders’ embrace, but with a voiceover throughout.
In the document, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the South’s President Moon Jae-in “confirmed the common goal of realising, through complete denuclearisation, a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula”.
Mrs Ri, who almost always appears wearing a pink and black traditional dress, known as hanbok in the South and choson chogori in the North, and sporting a badge of Kim Il-Sung and his son and successor Kim Jong-Il, is more accustomed to announcing the regime’s latest military breakthroughs.
In November, she revealed the country had successfully tested a new intercontinental ballistic missile, which it said could strike anywhere in the US.
In front of a backdrop of Mt Paektu, the dormant volcano on the Chinese border that is the fount of Korean nationhood, she described how the “greatest ICBM,” could be armed with a “super-large heavy nuclear warhead” and could strike the “whole mainland” of the United States.
“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,” said Mrs Ri, who was also the one who had announced the success of the country’s test of an intercontinental ballistic missile in July.
Mrs Ri’s appearance was the latest landmark in a remarkable TV career.
Believed to be 73-years-old, Mrs Ri was born to a poor family in Gangwon Province, in central Korea, during the Japanese occupation. She studied performing arts at Pyongyang University of Theatre and Film before being selected by the party to be its mouthpiece due to her poverty and, consequently, her impeccable communist credentials.
Recruited by Korea Central Television, she became chief news presenter by 1974 and survived purges and demotions of others around her at the station.
Mrs Ri’s delivery is reportedly one of the reasons she is so admired by the Kim dynasty, with an announcing style that is a combination of bombast and melodrama.
When she announced the death in 1994 of Kim Il-sung, revered as the father of the nation, Mrs Ri was in tears. Seventeen years later, announcing the death of Kim Jong-il, the father of the present dictator, she was visibly restraining herself from weeping.
Mrs Ri lives in Pyongyang and officially retired in January 2012, but has been brought back to North Korean television screens to announce some of the most important developments of the Kim Jong-un regime.
Those include the January 2016 claim that a nuclear test carried out at the Punggye-ri proving grounds had been the North’s first hydrogen bomb.