Television

CNN's 2 docs focus on political strife in North Korea and Aids

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MUMBAI: News broadcaster CNN will air two documentaries-Undercover In the Secret State and Living With Aids.

Undercover In The Secret State features secretly filmed footage of public executions and people struggling for life in North Korea. This airs on 19 November 2005 at 5:30 pm and on 20 November at 10:30 am and 6:30 pm.

Grainy footage, never before seen on television, shows a crowd being ordered to gather in a dusty field in North Korea . A public official tells the people that those who go against their country will end up with a fate like this one. Minutes later, a man is tied to a pole and shot by a firing squad, his body slumping lifelessly to the ground. His alleged crime: trying to make contact with the outside world.

This rare video of a public execution—likely the first ever smuggled out of North Korea —is an example of how dissidents are using technology as a new weapon in their battle against North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il. In North Korea , protest is both difficult and dangerous. But now, dissidents are using hidden digital cameras and cell phones to record, as never before, images of life inside the country. In chilling detail, these images show the world what conditions are really like there.

Korean journalist ,Jung-Eun Kim, tracks down dissidents doing the dangerous work of making these secret films and smuggling them out of the country. In furtive meetings on the Chinese border and safe houses in Bangkok , Thailand , she learns firsthand how these images are captured and at what risk.

The documentary footage includes the cursory trials and public executions in two different border towns. Also captured on hidden camera: emaciated, dirty, homeless children steal and scrounge for scraps in the markets. In the bleak, frigid North Korean countryside, political prisoner labor in a concentration camp the government says doesn't exist. And, under a bridge in a factory town, a dissident defaces a poster of “The Dear Leader,” films his anti-government protest and runs for his life. His act of protest has cost him everything: his home, his country, a life with his wife and daughter.

North Korea is one of the world's last Stalinist societies, a tightly closed state that strictly controls its people. There is no freedom to travel, to speak openly, to question or oppose the regime. The government of North Korea describes the nation as a paradise, but refugees speak of famine, prison, torture, lack of food, safety and even the most basic freedoms. The images now being captured by dissidents are some of the first to show what life is really like there.

The documentary also shows how information threatens North Korea 's rigid isolation and seeps into North Korean culture as never before. Smuggled DVDs of South Korean soap operas and movies from the West are showing citizens that North Korea may not be the paradise the government indicates. An Internet radio station in Seoul , South Korea , run by North Korean defectors broadcasts news to those on the border. A smuggled cell phone allows Jung-Eun to speak personally with a young man she met years ago at the border, and who now struggles to survive in North Korea .

Another documentary is called Living With Aids. Filmmaker, Sorious Samura’s documentary reveals the horrifying backdrop to the spread of HIV in Africa It airs on 30 November 2005 at 7.30 pm, on 1 December 2005 World AIDS Day at 7.30 pm, on 3 December 2005 at 5.30 pm and on 4 December at 10:30 am and 6:30 pm.

Samura travels to Mongu, Zambia to find out how Aids is destroying Africa and what Africans are doing to cope with its merciless impact on day to day life. Living with a family beset by Aids, and working in the region's largest hospital for four weeks, Samura discovers that the complex African culture is exacerbating the spread of the disease and its social toll.

Through conversations with hospital patients, wives and mothers, party-goers and sex workers, Samura uncovers the shocking truth behind the rate of infection amongst the young, procreating generation: recklessness towards knowingly infecting sexual partners, a disdain for using condoms for personal protection, and an ingrained reticence to educating offspring about safe sexual relations. Samura speaks frankly about living conditions and their impact on children's understanding of intimate relations. “Parents need their own bedrooms. We all know that children model their behaviour on their parents. Exposure to adult intimacy means some girls are losing their virginity as early as six years old.”

CNN International senior VP ,Rena Golden, says, “Living With Aids has the kind of editorial value and educational impact that work side by side as a vital piece of journalism that heeds the responsibility of CNN and other news networks to bring such important issues to the fore. CNN is pleased to be a part of the awareness drive".

The documentary will be seen internationally on CNN by a potential audience of more than 186 million television households and hotel rooms, whom Samura is hoping will be uncomfortable with what it sees. “The global premiere of my documentary is an important opportunity to communicate to a wide audience how easily HIV can be spread, and to gain international recognition of the sensitive issues involved. This is crucial to changing the statistics in the fight against Aids,” he says.

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