Diane Sawyer to Report From North Korea

ByABC News via logo
October 16, 2006, 7:36 AM

Oct. 16, 2006 — -- As tensions between North Korea and the West ratchet up, ABC News has been allowed rare access inside the totalitarian country.

"Good Morning America's" Diane Sawyer, who is in Beijing today, will travel to North Korea and begin reporting from inside the country Tuesday.

Sawyer's visit is extraordinary because the media in North Korea are so tightly controlled by the government.

Foreign journalists are almost never allowed inside the country.

Newspapers and radio and TV stations there serve up flattering reports about the country's leader, Kim Jong Il, and his agenda.

The media rights group, Reporters Without Frontiers, has called the country the worst violator of press freedom in the world.

Over the weekend, the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to impose tough sanctions on North Korea for its nuclear test, including inspections of cargo going in and out of the country.

North Korea called the sanctions "gangsterlike" and ominously warned of taking "physical countermeasures."

Dealing with this crisis is especially difficult because North Korea is perhaps the most secretive, mysterious nation on Earth.

Nearly 23 million North Koreans live in virtual isolation, inside a reality created by Kim Jong Il.

Even as the rest of the world stays connected through the Internet, North Korea has very little presence on the Web.

The people reportedly know little about common technology such as cell phones and computers.

Education is paramount in the communist country, but children read his books and sing songs about the "dear leader" Kim Jong Il's "beautiful brain, his great heart."

Meanwhile, the country is economically crippled, relying on foreign aid to feed its people.

Aid organizations estimate that as many as 2 million people have died of starvation since the mid-1990s, because of natural disasters and government ineptitude.

But because it is so closed off, few outsiders have been there to learn the truth of daily life for families there today.

Sawyer will look into the daily lives of people in North Korea to see how they live, and will ask what they know about the outside world and the nuclear conflict playing out with the United States.