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On assignment for National Geographic Channel's Explorer, investigative reporter Lisa Ling got a rare look inside North Korea—something few Americans have ever been able to do. North Korea has a history of hostility toward journalists and Westerners, so Lisa went undercover as a medical coordinator to enter the country.

The nature of the society was quickly apparent. Upon her arrival, Lisa was assigned six government escorts who watched her every move in the country, and even stayed in Lisa and her investigative team's hotel with them.

Lisa says that life in North Korea is completely dominated by the government. Worried about American ability to spy using cellular technology, no one in the country is allowed to own a cell phone. Lisa even had to turn hers over to government officials. Additionally, the Internet is forbidden and there are only two television stations in the entire country—both run by the government. One guard even reprimanded Lisa for having a fashion magazine with her. "People are literally cut off from the rest of the world," Lisa says.

She explains that because there was never an official end to the Korean War, U.S. troops still patrol the border between North and South. The North Koreans she spoke with held favorable opinions about their country's nuclear ambitions. "I asked all of them about nuclear testing, and they are so proud that their country is standing up against America."
FROM: Exclusive: Lisa Ling Takes a Rare Trip Inside North Korea
Published on October 11, 2006