As North Korea successfully launched its three-stage rocket into space today, the news met the public across the small country via a report by an excited, but unknown anchor — one that the only top brass in the country, likely including Kim Jung Un, know the name of.
The Unha rocket was launched from the Sohae launch pad in Tongchang-ri, northwest of Pyongyang. North Korea insists the launch is simply part of an effort to develop a peaceful space program, but many argue that it raises the specter of the small country’s ability to eventually strike the U.S.
The anchor who read the news is one of several new, younger faces that are gracing the screens of North Korean TV. Today’s announcer carried on the tradition of excitable, animated delivery of the news, and as soon as the success of the rocket’s launch was clear, delighted spectators across the country cheered.
The effusive news reading brought back memories of the famous announcer, Ri Chun-hee, who dramatically sobbed while breaking the news of death of Kim Jong Il last year. Ri had been the chief presenter of Korean Central Television since 1974, but just over a month after making that tearful announcement of “Dear Leader’s” death, Ri announced her retirement as broadcaster at KCTV.
Ri was highly praised by late- Kim Jong Il in his days, and was given a “People’s Hero” title by the deceased leader.
Frequently, North Korean-style news shows have been ridiculed by the outside world for their exclamation and shouting, use of costume, emotional readings and stoic facial expression. Footage used on the programs has also been heavily mocked for showing endless video of leaders visiting factories, armies and amusement parks.
Visible changes in style are now becoming apparent, however, and North Korean news is starting to look more modern. Younger announcers, colorful western jackets, new studios equipped with wide screens, and many more interviews and sound bites from everyday North Koreans are all becoming the norm. Reporters are now even trying show-and-tell stand-ups, talking in normal, conversational tone.
A new variety of faces have also been seen on KCTV, and the lucky few to go in front of a camera get the star treatment from the government. Jang Jin Sung, a poet and North Korea defector, told ABC News that these star announcers are awarded an apartment and a luxury vehicle by the country’s leader.
North Korean announcers have also generally gone from old to younger. The female announcers’ outfits also showed modern fashion from traditional costume to colorful red or pink jackets.
But for now, exactly who these new announcers are, will remain a mystery.