The voice that launched a thousand missiles and megatons is back on air in North Korea’s state-owned TV station. Well, maybe not a thousand, to be absolutely truthful, but about a dozen. But propaganda owes no allegiance to truth, and what Ri Chun-hee articulates is pure propaganda.
On July 4, the septuagenarian grandmother was summoned out of retirement to exuberantly announce the successful launch of the Hwasong-14 ICBM, which is believed to be capable of striking Alaska with a nuclear warhead. The moose and the caribou out there must be seriously concerned. These mammals are slightly more endangered today, after the news of the launch, than they were yesterday. Sarah Palin can easily relocate to a state out of range. The wildlife can’t.
But seriously, North Korea seems to have passed a significant milestone in delivery vehicle technology and the most credible voice in Pyongyang had to be called up to deliver the incredible news. Ri has read out all the news that matters in Pyongyang — the death of bellicose leaders and the birth of weapons of mass destruction. Mentored by Kim Il-sung, she has drawn on her training in theatre to develop an exaggeratedly histrionic style. Her delivery is as remote from the Western concept of the news as Macbeth is from Marcus Aurelius. And she has an enormous emotional range, weeping while announcing funerals but jigging to celebrate missile launches.
While North Korean officials believe that Ri can menace the US with her voice alone, the maximum firepower that the US can muster in retaliation is the Twitter handle of Donald Trump, who is lamely wondering if Beijing and Tokyo are too craven to administer stiff uppercuts to the regime in North Korea. Seriously, it’s no contest.