AZUZ: As we've reported on North Korea, an updated view on the increased international tensions over its missile and nuclear programs, you've heard me used words like "secretive" or "restrictive" when talking about its government. In a communist country, the government controls the major political party. It controls the minor political parties. It controls the country's four TV stations and it controls the radio.
According to the World Press Freedom Index, which advocates for media freedom for journalists, North Korea ranked dead last in the world, at 180, for freedom of the press. But it has let some outside journalists in. And the stories they're able to tell reveal life there from the inside out.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: People are often surprised that I can pose on social media from inside North Korea even though they have things like Facebook or Instagram or Twitter here, North Korean officials are becoming increasingly savvy about the power of social media to get their message out of the world. They realized that a single post, especially by a network like CNN could be seen by millions of people.
So, they're paying closer attention to what I'm posting and so, just like on television, on social media, you have to be really careful in following North Korean rules. Nothing that can be perceived as disrespectful to their supreme leader, Kim Jong-un. Nothing demeaning to the country.
It's not something we're used to in the West.
But we do have a lot of freedom. We built up this trust over time that has allowed us to get some really extraordinary access that we didn't use to get.
We're about to enter a place that we're rarely allowed to go.
So, we're getting the chance to photograph real people in real situations. We get a window into their lives that most of the world has really never seen. And I found that these Instagram stories that people can hold in their hand and look on their phone, it takes them inside this story in a way that they really have never experienced before.
People are used to seeing military parades. They're used to seeing fiery rhetoric. But to hold their phone and see us hanging out at our North Korean hotel or walking around in the streets.
It's the 85th anniversary of the North Korean army.
It makes people feel like they are along on this journey. I think the North Korean people are lovely people. They're friendly. They're warm.
They're kind. And I tried to capture that in the photographs that I take.
Of all the things that I posted about on this trip, I think the one thing that resonated so much with people were these songs that play over loud speakers across the city.
They begin at 5:00 a.m. with a wake up song. And then almost hourly, there's this song that plays called "Where Are You, Dear General?" It's a tribute to the late North Korean leaders.
People in the Western world find it very creepy, North Koreans don't find it creepy at all. They're used to this song. And then, actually, once you're in the country for a while, you just start to get used to it.