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Wednesday, September 9, 1998 Published at 09:12 GMT 10:12 UK

Inside the Secret State

North Korea enters its second half-century isolated and impoverished. Its population is ravaged by chronic food shortages. In this special report BBC correspondents lift the lid on the world's most secretive state.

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Stalinist outpost
The BBC's Korean specialist Angie Knox reflects on a country of illusion, contrasts and ... unexpected beauty.
ALSO: Like father like son: Kim Jong-il profile

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Military might
With the world's fifth largest army and a known nuclear capacity, Pyongyang remains a threat to regional peace.
ALSO: Analysis: New fears over missile programme

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Famine fears
Food shortages have got so bad, people are reported to be eating grass and tree bark. More than two million may have died - now food aid has become a political weapon.
ALSO: UN appeals for more aid

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Unity next?
The border with the South remains one of last remnants of the Cold War. But if the walls come tumbling down, how will Seoul cope?
ALSO: Political history of North Korea

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In this section

Inside the Secret State

Land of illusions

Profile: Kim Jong-il

North Korea: a political history

Analysis: Korean missiles threaten region

Setting store by military might

Where famine stalks the land

South Korea's DJ brings sunshine to the North