Star newscaster among first to report in North Korea on Trump-Kim summit

North Korean star presenter Ri Chun Hee, 75, during a seven-minute news bulletin detailing Mr Kim's planned summit with US President Donald Trump on Tuesday.
North Korean star presenter Ri Chun Hee, 75, during a seven-minute news bulletin detailing Mr Kim's planned summit with US President Donald Trump on Tuesday.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Pyongyang's state-controlled media on Monday (June 11) broke the silence on Mr Kim Jong Un's visit to Singapore, a day after the North Korean leader touched down at Changi Airport.

A seven-minute news bulletin by state broadcaster Korean Central Television was among the North's first official reports offering details to its citizens on Mr Kim's planned summit with United States President Donald Trump on Tuesday.

 

It was read by star presenter Ri Chun Hee, who is known for her passionate and at times, melodramatic, delivery of important news on Mr Kim's regime.

Wearing her trademark pink and black traditional Korean dress, Ms Ri told her audience that Mr Kim met Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana on Sunday, and the pair exchanged warm greetings.

She delivered the news seated in front of a frequently used backdrop of Mount Paektu, a dormant volcano on the Chinese border symbolic of Korean nationhood.

Though the 75-year-old officially retired in January 2012, she has returned to air now and then and is reportedly a favourite among the Kims.

As she addressed the country on Monday, the bulletin also showed photos of Mr Kim inspecting a guard of honour at Pyongyang airport before his departure to Singapore on an Air China plane.

 
 
 
 

In the news bulletin, Mr Kim was shown in photos en route to the St Regis hotel, where he is staying for the summit, in his convoy of more than 30 vehicles.

And while at the Istana, Mr Kim made an entry in the visitors' book and had a friendly talk with PM Lee, Ms Ri said.

Mr Kim told PM Lee that he was "very pleased to visit the magnificent and beautiful Republic of Singapore", and thanked the Republic for its efforts in organising the historic Trump-Kim summit.

Several photos in the bulletin also show Mr Kim sharing a handshake with PM Lee and posing for the media, as well as the two leaders seated at the Istana for bilateral talks.

Ms Ri reported that PM Lee had thanked North Korea for choosing Singapore as host, and he said that it was an important occasion in achieving peace and stability in the Korean peninsula.

The official Korean Central News Agency reported on Monday that senior North Korean officials on Sunday sincerely wished Mr Kim "good successes in the first summit meeting and talks between the DPRK and the US and his safe return".

DPRK stands the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's formal name.

Mr Kim was greeted by Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and other Singapore government officials upon his arrival in Singapore.

"He got off the plane, exchanged warm greetings with the Singaporean government senior officials who came to greet him, and headed for his lodging quarters," it said.

Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the ruling Workers’ Party, ran a two-page colour spread on Monday that Mr Kim had left the country for a historic summit with Mr Trump. 

Photos show him departing on an Air China plane and posing during a meeting with Mr Lee in Singapore.

Tuesday's summit - the first between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader - will take place at the Capella hotel on Sentosa.

Thousands of local and international journalists have gathered in Singapore for the event.

Not much is known of the media in North Korea except that its press is under state control. Delays are a norm when reporting their leader's movements, such as during April's summit between Mr Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae In, which the Korean Central News Agency reported on April 28, a day after it was over.