CNN Special Report Presents Secret State: Inside North Korea

Exclusive one-hour special airs Saturday, September 16 at 1000 and 2000 HKT on CNN International
2017-09-14 13:17 2376

HONG KONG, Sept. 14, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- With tensions near boiling point and most Americans now banned from visiting North Korea, CNN cameras go inside the secretive nation to places few outsiders have ever seen. Reported by CNN international correspondent Will Ripley -- who has been to North Korea 15 times in the last three years -- Secret State: Inside North Korea will premiere Saturday, September 16 at 1000 HKT, followed by a replay at 2000 HKT on CNN International. 

Secret State: Inside North Korea
Secret State: Inside North Korea

Ripley and his team travel from the heavily-armed border region near South Korea -- deep into the impoverished countryside where blackouts and food shortages are commonplace -- to the coast where frenzied missile testing is underway. They also go through the showpiece capital of Pyongyang, where a growing consumer class is emerging, and along the Chinese border where the team climbs North Korea's most sacred mountain.

Throughout the journey CNN speaks to North Koreans who have never been allowed to speak to any foreign journalists. Conducted under the watchful eye of government minders, these unprecedented interviews give extraordinary insight into the lives and aspirations of those who live and work under Kim Jong Un's authoritarian regime.

In the coastal city of Wonsan, one of the country's main missile launch sites, Ripley speaks to a resident who has witnessed many of these missile launches and says it gives him "great pride" when he sees a missile in the sky. Ripley meets two teenage boys playing a video game where they try to kill their enemy, the Americans. He also speaks with teenagers who become visibly uncomfortable when Ripley tells them he's an American, the first they've ever met. 

The team heads back to Pyongyang International airport after they get word of former NBA star Dennis Rodman's surprise arrival, which happens to coincide with a secret handover of American college student Otto Warmbier. The 22-year-old detainee died six days after his release.

The trip concludes with a flight 400 miles north of Pyongyang to a place rarely visited by foreign reporters: Mount Paektu. An active volcano on the border of North Korea and China, Mt. Paektu is the highest point on the Korean Peninsula and a sacred place to North Koreans. The CNN team makes a long drive through rural areas in the northern border region -- getting access to typical North Korean villages along the way -- before reaching the summit of Mt. Paektu.

Follow Will Ripley on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more images and videos from North Korea. 

'Secret State: Inside North Korea' trailer:

Airtimes for exclusive one-hour special: Hong Kong, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Singapore and Taipei

Saturday 16th September at 1000 and 2000 HKT
Sunday 17th September at 0300, 1500 and 2300 HKT
Monday 18th September at 1700 HKT

About CNN Special Reports

CNN Special Reports is the award-winning, in-house documentary unit focusing on in-depth and investigative reporting of major issues and events and the powerful human interest stories that reflect our times.

About CNN International

CNN's portfolio of news and information services is available in seven different languages across all major TV, digital and mobile platforms reaching more than 450 million households around the globe. CNN International is the number one international TV news channel according to all major media surveys across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the Asia Pacific region and Latin America and has a US presence which includes CNNgo. CNN Digital is a leading network for online news, mobile news and social media. CNN is at the forefront of digital innovation and continues to invest heavily in expanding its digital global footprint, with a suite of award-winning digital properties and a range of strategic content partnerships, commercialised through a strong data-driven understanding of audience behaviours. Over the years CNN has won multiple prestigious awards around the world for its journalism. In addition, around 1,000 hours of long-form series, documentaries and specials are produced every year by CNNI's non-news programming division, CNN Vision. CNN has 38 editorial offices and more than 1,100 affiliates worldwide through CNN Newsource. CNN International is part of Turner, a Time Warner company.

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Source: CNN International