The melodramatic appearances of North Korea’s most famous television broadcaster may soon be consigned to the past as the regime’s state-controlled channel, KCTV, undergoes a modern makeover.
Ri Chun-hee, 75, dubbed the “pink lady” after her distinctive pink traditional Hanbok dress, has been the face of the pariah state for decades, entrusted to announce its most historical developments, including key nuclear tests and the deaths of leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong-il, during which she openly wept.
But Ms Ri’s wavering, passionate tones appear to no longer fit with the high-tech image the country’s young leader Kim Jong-un, who is still in his 30s, wants to project.
In keeping with his pursuit of modernisation – alongside the development of online shopping and a Netflix-style streaming app for indigenous smartphones – KCTV is reportedly undergoing a revamp, introducing younger, trendier reporters and a flashier, better-equipped studio.
Ms Ri, known for both her exuberant support for the Kim family dynasty and occasional vitriolic outbursts at the West, has been seen less on state TV, although this is also attributed to her semi-retirement.
"The main motto of Kim Jong-un’s new era 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," Kang Dong-wan, a professor at Dong-A University in Seoul, told the news channel.
As North Korean viewers become more exposed to outside television programmes, the old top-down style of reading news does "not sink in anymore,” Mr Kang explained.
Instead, programming has switched from pure ideology about the achievements of the country’s “great leaders” to include more field reporting and diversity, focussing on improvements in living standards such as students on their mobile phones or restaurant customers enjoying pizza.
TV shows are remaining on message, however. While they may include soundbites from regular citizens, interviewees are still certain to express their gratitude at every opportunity to Kim Jong-un.