The voice of North Korea

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Washington's special North Korea representative, Stephen Bosworth, is in Pyongyang trying to restart stalled denuclearization talks. It's unlikely that the envoy will meet with reclusive leader Kim Jong-il, as former President Bill Clinton did back in August. But if he does, it is sure to be covered in official North Korean media. And as reporter Jason Strother tells us, there is one anchorwoman whose job it is to report it: Ri Chun-hee.

MARCO WERMAN: Veteran US diplomat Stephen Bosworth began a rare trip to North Korea today. He's engaging in the highest-level talks with the communist country in more than a year. Neither side has said which North Korean officials Bosworth will talk with. He's not expected to meet with North Korea's reclusive leader, Kim Jong Il. But, in the unlikely event that he does, it will surely be covered in the official North Korean media. Jason Strother, in Seoul, South Korea, tells us about the North Korean anchorwoman who would report the story.

JASON STROTHER: There's a familiar face that greets North Koreans when they tune in to watch the news. An older woman, dressed in a traditional pink gown, bows to the camera before speaking.

RI CHUN HEE: [speaking Korean]

STROTHER: That's Ri Chun Hee. She appears at the top of every newscast. Her beat is the Dear Leader Kim Jong Il. She reports every public appearance Kim makes, and recites the praises he's said to receive from abroad. According to a profile in a North Korean magazine, Ri was born in 1943. She's worked as a reporter for nearly 40 years. Analysts say landing a news anchor job in North Korea isn't easy. You have to demonstrate ideological credentials and come from a trustworthy family just to get into journalism school.

BRIAN MYERS: Ri Chun Hee is an exception, in that she didn't go through the usual journalistic background, but instead, she kind of majored in drama.

STROTHER: Brian Myers analyzes North Korean propaganda at Dongseo University in Busan.

MYERS: That kind of background has stood her in good stead, I suppose because she has a very dramatic style of delivery.

STROTHER: Myers says there's a lot of showmanship that goes into North Korean broadcasting. He says news anchors use four distinct tones depending on what they're talking about. For instance, there's the lofty, wavering voice, used when praising the nation's leadership. That's Ri Chun Hee's forte.

RI CHUN HEE: [speaking Korean]

STROTHER: There's a staccato explanatory tone used for the weather. And then a more natural voice for uncontroversial news stories. But the one that's perhaps best known outside of North Korea is what Myers calls the invective tone.

MYERS: It's a hate filled voice. It kind of reminds me of what George Orwell was talking about in "1984," when he talked about the two-minute hate. It's a voice just laden with scorn and hatred; I'm not going to try to imitate it."

MYERS: No problem, here's a sample.

MAN: [speaking Korean]

STROTHER: Voices like that are deeply familiar to North Koreans living in the south. Jin Seong Rak defected in 2008. He says he finds South Korean broadcast voices a little bland.

JIN SEONG RAK: [speaking Korean]

STROTHER: They just don't wake me up, Jin says. The North Korean style is a lot stronger and has more highs and lows. Jin is now a journalist himself at a Seoul radio station, staffed mostly by North Koreans. He and his colleagues are actually starting to pick up the more conversational South Korean broadcast voice, even though they transmit their program to North Korea. Most North Koreans have no access to foreign media, so there's no way for Jin to know how many listeners, if any, he's stealing away from Ri Chun Hee, North Korea's anchorwoman

RI CHUN HEE: [speaking Korean]

STROTHER: What's more certain is that as long as Kim Jong Il is around, you can probably count on Ri Chun Hee to give the latest. For the World, I'm Jason Strother in Seoul, South Korea.