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CNN Live Event/Special

New Year's Eve Celebrations Across The World With Special Live Global Coverage; North Korean Arms Development Puts Asia On Edge In 2023; Taiwan's Tallest Building To Host Fireworks Display; K-Pop NCT 127 Set For Superstardom; Actor And Singer Aarif Lee Live On CNN; Special Metaverse Celebration To Ring In New Year Virtually; Fireworks Light Up Sydney Harbors As 2023 Arrives; XO Elixir A Refreshing Way To Welcome New Year. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired December 31, 2022 - 08:00   ET




KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're looking live at Sydney Harbor. Less than three minutes until midnight there. We want to welcome you to the first hour of our special New Year's Eve Live. This is our view from the stories Peninsula Hotel here in Hong Kong with a stunning skyline in Victoria Harbor behind me. I'm Kristie Lu Stout in all day long. CNN is taking you around the world as we celebrate 2023 with you in style.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Paula Newton here at CNN's World Headquarters in Atlanta. CNN will be with you until everyone everywhere rings in the New Year.

Now, over the next four plus hours, our talented team will take you to celebrations in Sydney, Seoul, Shanghai, Taipei, Hong Kong, Bangkok and beyond.

LU STOUT: In just moments, the Solomon Islands, Melbourne in Sydney, Australia, all hit in midnight. So, let's go straight to Luna Park in Sydney. And Angus Watson is standing by. And Angus, you are just minutes away from 2023. Set the scene for us.

ANGUS WATSON, CNN PRODUCER: Kristie, I'm very excited to be able to bring you the scenes here live from Sydney Harbor, where the party is in full swings, people counting down, partying away the last few moments of 2022.

And this is a scene which just hasn't been possible for the last few years because of COVID and you'll remember in 2019, the bushfires which enveloped the east coast of Australia.

So this party is grimming with the excitement of people here. I'm at Luna Park, an iconic amusement park on the Sydney foreshore where 7,000 young people are celebrating a year where COVID restrictions have been lifted. This is really an exclamation point on that. We've got DJs, we've got the Ferris wheel behind me and the iconic Opera House and Sydney Harbor Bridge, where seven tons of pyrotechnics are above, about to light up the sky.


The DJ here is counting down the moments now until we're about to see this iconic fireworks display in full flight. 1 million people have packed the harbor for sure to party. 10, nine, eight -- you can hear it. Enjoy. Welcome to 2023 Sydney, Australia.


LU STOUT: Wow. That was next level. I had read that about eight tons of fireworks were to go into an eight minute show that was a pyrotechnic display in Sydney, Australia, that lasted well over 10 minutes, and the soundtrack was kicking. We have seen as Angus Watson joining us on the scene there in Angus.

Wow, what a moment. Because after two years of COVID disruptions remember the lockdown this time last year, New Year's fireworks in Sydney. It's already 2023 where you are. There a sense of, finally, the party is back?

ANGUS: Absolutely, Kristie. People here, all the young people around me are celebrating the return of their social life. COVID is still with us, of course, but this well vaccinated nation has been opening back up this year, and this really is the exclamation point on all that progress. This wonderful party here, which you just saw culminating in that fantastic fireworks display.

And what was really important there, you saw the rainbow flag the bridge, the Sydney Harbour Bridge there lit up as a rainbow, a symbol of LGBTQ inclusion and diversity.

Now, Sydney is going to host the World Pride Festival in February, a month of arts, culture, music, events and human rights discussion all around LGBTQ inclusion and diversity. This was an invitation to the world to come to Sydney for that wonderful event, an invitation which couldn't have been extended through that period of COVID-19 last year.

If I could just cast your mind back, Sydney was going through a spike of COVID-19 cases. People weren't allowed to gather in large groups to celebrate like they are now. Foreign tourists weren't allowed into the country. Australians weren't allowed to move freely state to state. Well, all that's gone and the party is here. Kristie.

LU STOUT: All right, Angus Watson, we did take note of the Rainbow Bridge there absolutely gorgeous sentiment there. Fabulous party, and you get a bonus. It is summer already there in Sydney. Hit the beach. Enjoy it. 2023. Angus, Happy New Year.


Now keep it here. You're watching CNN. And up next, we're going to go live to Seoul near Lotte World Tower, as the Koreas and Japan count down to the New Year. And coming up later on our New Year's Eve live special, my interview with one of K-pop's hottest groups, NCT 127. Keep it here.

All right. We'll be checking out a party in the Metaverse as well. I get to dance with lime sharks. Check it out. You're watching CNN.


JAY PARK, RAPPER, SINGER-SONGWRITER, PRODUCER: I wish the same thing for health and happiness and for everybody to stay safe and just, you know, have God watch over me and my loved ones. I just wish for everybody to get along and be kind to one another, you know, make the world a better place.




LYDIA KO, NEW ZEALAND PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: My hope for 2023 is just enjoying life on tour and just grow and develop to become a more mature player and somebody that when girls come out and watch the LPGA, somebody that they can idolize and say, hey, I want to be on the LPGA just like them.


NEWTON: Guess what? Already a new year in Australia. This was the scene in Sydney a short time ago as the clock struck midnight, ushering in 2023. I got to tell you, it was a wild moment. Spectacular display of fireworks over the famed harbor as light and color illuminated the night sky, which was, thankfully, mostly clear with that all important weather cooperating.

Similar scene in New Zealand. They got the party started hours earlier and welcomed the New Year with a dazzling display of their own, of light and sound. New Zealanders among the first in the world to celebrate the arrival of 2023. The fireworks show from Auckland's 328 -- 328 meters tall sky tower returned, thankfully, after last year's celebrations were canceled due to the COVID-19 Omicron variants.


But as you can see gosh, it really was worth the wait, wasn't it? Fantastic.

Welcome back to the first hour of our New Year's Eve special. New Year's Eve Live. CNN is taking you right around the world as we ring in 2023 from Auckland to Abu Dhabi, Sydney to Singapore, we'll be with you every step of the way for the excitement.

Now, in about an hour and 45 minutes from now, Seoul will be celebrating as the Koreas and Japan countdown to that New Year. And after years of COVID cancellations, listen, it's going to be a stunning sight. Now, while the world celebrates the New Year, it's also keeping a wary eye on North Korea. In 2022, leader Kim Jong-un shot off missile after missile as he builds his nuclear forces. As Paula Hancocks explains from a nervous South Korea, he appears to have no interest at this point in diplomacy.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): 2022 saw record after record being broken in North Korea with the most amount of missile launches in its history. Short, medium and long range fired from land, sea, even trains, weapons. Developments mainly focused on strengthening its nuclear deterrence of the United States.

ANKIT PANDA, STATON SR. FELLOW, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTL. PEACE: They are rehearsing for nuclear war, and that, I think, is the big picture this year. They are maturing as an operator of nuclear capabilities. Everything we've seen this year suggests that Kim Jong- un is dead serious about using nuclear capabilities early in a conflict if necessary.

HANCOCKS: The only element missing that both U.S. and South Korean intelligence agencies had predicted a 7th underground nuclear test. Experts say it's still a matter of when and not if they test. Why has such an intensity of testing and development been met with karma reactions?

BRUCE KLINGNER, SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: The activity has become so routine through repetition of missile launches that people have become a bit jaded by it. And also the last several years, there have been very big events which draw attention away.

HANCOCKS: Kim Jong-un was front and center at many of the launches, always a sign of a strategically significant event even introducing his daughter, believed to be nine or 10, sparking speculation of bad health or succession messaging.

Others suggest it shows him domestically as a softer family man, a hard image to pull off in front of a massive ICBM. Kim Jong-un had no interest in talking this year, ignoring offers from both the United States and South Korea. Kim is working his way through his five-year military plan announced in January 2021, while blaming U.S.-South Korean joint military drills for the rising tensions on the peninsula.

JENNY TOWN, DIRECTOR, STIMSON CENTER'S 38 NORTH PROGRAM: You know, the North Koreans probably see 2022 as a victory. They certainly hit many milestones in their WMD development. They had a COVID outbreak, and they beat it in three months, which is a little hard to believe, but at the same time, certainly is something that they can chalk up domestically as a political win.

HANCOCKS: The country remains largely close to people, but some trade did resume this year with China. Experts say a necessity to ease a serious food shortage following bad weather, bad harvests, and a COVID induced isolation. But with neighboring China now lifting some of its covered restrictions, it's 2023, the year for a COVID paranoid Pyongyang to decide to finally open its borders.


NEWTON: CNN's Paula Hancocks is live for us now in the South Korean capital, Seoul. Paula, good to have you, especially as you recap for us, which has been a tumultuous year, right? And again today, three new missiles. We will get to the festivities in Seoul in a moment, but I just want you to explain how the South Korean government has handled this and really, as you've been saying, has been an impression of year for them in their relations with North Korea.

HANCOCKS: Yes, Paula, I mean, North Korea managed to sneak a few more in at the end of the year. Just today, three short range ballistic missiles. And what we have seen from the South Korean side, there's a conservative government that's in power now and has been in power since May. And we've certainly seen a significant hardening of the line against North Korea.

Now, often North Korea does carry out more launches and more missile tests when there is a conservative government. They are a little more bellicose when it comes to that. We are seeing some pretty bellicose response from the South Korean president as well.

For example, when there were North Korean drones that flew into South Korean airspace across the border, he said if North Korea sends one, we'll send three the other way. So certainly there are concerns that there is some strong sentiment on both sides at this point, Paula.

NEWTON: Absolutely. And that is the reality on the ground as we usher in 2023. And a nice night though, right, Paula? In Seoul, clear, cold, lovely lights behind you there.


It is exciting as well there in that city, given everything the country's been through with COVID as well.

HANCOCKS: Absolutely. And everybody that we have spoken to so far here has said that is the one thing they have been thinking about a lot going into the New Year. They want all the COVID restrictions to be lifted. The final ones that are in place, they look back at this year as not being quite what they wanted, COVID wise, as people around the world feel. But they are hoping that 2023 will turn that around.

So we're here at the Lotte World Tower, where in just over an hour and a half there will be fireworks from the building behind me. This is the tallest building in South Korea, the fifth tallest in the world. A clear night, so hopefully everyone around for miles will be able to see them. Paula.

NEWTON: Yes, absolutely. Spectacular views from there. We'll look forward to it. Paula Hancocks for us in Seoul. It's coming up about an hour and a half from now. Appreciate it.

Up next for us, we go back to Hong Kong and Kristie Lu Stout. We're live with all the revelers. We'll let you know how the party's going. Plus, on the brink of superstardom, Kristie has the interview every K- pop fan dreams of. Yes, she got it.

ALL: Hi, this is NCT 127. Happy New Year.

NEWTON: And Happy New Year to you. Now we go to Taipei and that place takes this firework seriously. Look at that. With the city using what was once the world's tallest building as a spectacular backdrop. Ahead, we'll meet the man behind that matchup.



PIKOTARO, ARTIST AND SINGER-SONGWRITER: Hi, I'm Picotaro. My hopes for 2023 is to travel around the world like this was a pandemic and sing for my family and kids. I have many more new songs to hope as well as everyone's favorite PPAP. OK.


LU STOUT: Welcome back. I'm Kristie Lu Stout, come to you live from Hong Kong. And it is well after midnight over in Sydney, Australia. As you saw earlier in the program on CNN New Year's Eve Live, the party is getting started there. It is already 2023 there. Fireworks that were set off about 25 minutes ago to welcome in a brand new year. And it has been a global, glorious, dazzling display over Sydney Harbor.


And the fun does not stop there, my friends. Plenty more world cities will be bringing in the New Year in the coming hours, and you're going to get a front row seat to it all right here on CNN.

Now, we are just about two and a half hours away from the stroke of midnight, and we will witness similar scenes in China, here in Hong Kong, in the Philippines and over in Taiwan. And Will Ripley is in Taipei for us and he joins us now live. And, Will, New Year's Eve in Taipei, it is a visual feast. Tell us what to expect.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is a visual feast and tonight it is a little wet. We'll see if it gets wild. Right now, the crowds are a little bit less than what we'd expect to see around this time but that's because this is probably the worst weather that Taipei has seen in a couple of weeks. We have an umbrella over me that's why I'm not getting drenched right now.

But I'll tell you what, people in Taiwan are certainly ready to party on New Year's Eve, as they do every year. You know, Lunar New Year is a time for family but on New Year's Eve in Taipei, it's all about coming here to the city center to check out five minutes this year, five minutes of fireworks way up high on Taipei 101.


RIPLEY (voice-over): New Year fireworks on Taipei 101, a proud tradition for Taiwan's tallest building. Dazzling more than a million spectators each year, many more around the world, a Taipei tradition for nearly two decades beginning with the towers launched in 2005.

MICHAEL LIU, VICE PRESIDENT/COO, TAIPEI 101: All the team was taught about how to celebrate Taipei 101 Tower to be the world's tallest building at that time. We did it for the celebration. And the next year, people was asking like are we going to play again until now. It is truly unexpected.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Michael Liu is the man behind the magic, managing the fireworks show for 18 years ever since Taipei 101's opening. The show gets longer every year. This year, 300 seconds of 360 degree skyscraping pyrotechnics, taking a team of more than 60 people. Safety is the top priority. No room for mistakes with huge crowds packing Central Taipei.

LIU: You know, every year when we finish the fireworks, we have started the next year's preparation already. So you feel very proud of this.

RIPLEY (voice-over): We're getting an exclusive look from the rooftop of this 101 storey tower, 460 meters, more than 1,500 feet above Taiwan's capital. It takes a strong stomach and sturdy safety belts to install fireworks with high tech precision.

UNO LAI, DIRECTOR, 2023 TAIPEI 101 FIREWORKS DISPLAY: This year is different from last year. At least we have this LED mesh animation on top of it. We also have laser beams. So rather than call it a show, I actually more feel it's like an event.

RIPLEY (voice-over): This year's theme, Taiwan's reopening to the world, a world still reeling from the pandemic and war.

LAI: This year we are not only showing this show to the people who live on this island, but we also try to sending a message that we really part of the world so we want to care about the world. So world peace is definitely one of the messages we are trying to sending to the world.

RIPLEY (voice-over): A hope shared by so many as the world welcomes 2023.


RIPLEY: You know, it was back in 2019 that CNN named Taipei as one of the top ten places to ring in the New Year precisely for the show. The spectacle that we're about to see at that mega skyscraper behind me. Think about all we've been through since then, 2020, 2021, 2022, the whole world is ready to be back open, to live life, and that's what tonight's show here is going to be a celebration of Kristie.

STOUT: Yes, Will. And Taipei 101 is going to be the launching pad for that incredible show to mark a brand new beginning, a brand new year. Will Ripley reporting live from Taipei. We'll talk again very soon, my friend.

2023 promises to be a banner year for a South Korean boy band NCT 127. It's only the second K-Pop group after BTS to have three different albums on the billboard 200 chart for six weeks each. That's according to a website Soompi. Now with a new repackaged album and a North American-South American tour on the way, NCT 127 finds itself on the brink of superstardom. And we recently sat down to talk to them about 2022 and also what's ahead in the New Year.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the members will probably spend the time with their respective families. The next day maybe we will meet in practice room for the repackage album


STOUT: And looking back at 2022, was it a big year for the group? We know you know. Taeyong, Jaehyun and Mark released solo singles, and Jaehyun became a luxury brand ambassador.

JAEHYUN, NCT 127 BAND MEMBER: First of all, thank you so much. Well, definitely. We started the tour again after the COVID. We really missed our fans abroad, and finally we got to meet them. We did the US tour. We went to LA and New York. It was really nice. And that's actually the biggest event.

STOUT: Now for audiences who are new to NCT 127, what does your name stand for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through-translation): NCT stands for Neo Culture Technology and the number 127 is the longitude of Seoul. So that means that we want to spread the power of K-pop all through the world starting in Seoul.

STOUT: Since December of 2021, you've been touring the world, 19 concerts in ten cities, and there'll be more to come in 2023. How does it feel to finally meet your global fans?

MARK, NCT 127 BAND MEMBER: You know, I feel like traveling is something that we have to do, it's a must, because we are really passionate about meeting our fans all over the world. And when we have the chance to, we try to get there immediately. And so next year, we're trying to fill more of our dates with just going and seeing our fans from all over the world.

STOUT: You're passionate about meeting your fans. We know your fans are passionate about meeting all of you. Do you have a most memorable moment during your world tour?

JOHNNY, NCT 127 BAND MEMBER: One of the moments that really was memorable to me was the Plus Concert in Korea, because it was the first time we ever had a concert outside. And just to see the faces of our fans and how they looked upon us was something that we've missed for a lot of those years because of COVID. And we have no other way to say thank you except doing the best we can on stage.

STOUT: Absolutely. I'm based here in Hong Kong, so I got to ask the question, when will you come here? JOHNNY: It's a necessity to go all around the world to meet our fans, and Hong Kong is definitely one of those places we would also love to go and explore, and have fun with our fans as well. We can't wait to try.

STOUT: Oh, you just made so many people here in the CNN Control Room in Hong Kong happy. Whoa. We are so excited. I also want to ask, do you have a favorite song of the year?


STOUT: Of course that's a hit. And looking forward to next year, what can your fans around the world expect from NCT 127?

TAEYONG, NCT 127 MEMBER: We are currently working on our 4th regular package album, and the release is not far away. So we want to let our fans know that. So I hope you look forward to that.

RIPLEY (voice-over): You guys have so much heart, thank you so much NCT 127 for hanging out with CNN. Happy New Year to all of you.

NCT 127 MEMBERS (in unison): Happy New Year.


STOUT: They want to spread the power of K-pop all over the world. Absolutely love them. You're watching CNN's New Year's Eve live from Hong Kong.

And up next, striking a pose in a different dimension. I head into the Metaverse to join a New Year's party with a very big difference. And he's a superstar in every dimension. Up next, actor and singer Aarif Lee joins me live from Beijing to tell us what he's looking forward to in 2023.

More of our New Year's Eve live specials in just a moment but first, a message from one of South Korea's top footballers.


SON HEUNG-MIN, TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR FORWARD: 2022, it was something special year for me. And, yes, being in World Cup, the national team was something special and fantastic memory. And with the old boots, with the spurs was also something that individually, that I dream for. And 2003, obviously, I wish a better year than 2022, but the most important thing is that I am in the world, being healthy and having fun, chasing for their dreams. And this is my wish. And I can't wait to have a 2023. And, yes, we see what's going to happen. I can't wait to see 2023.



(COMMERCIAL BREAK) STOUT: Welcome back. And that was an absolutely stunning display, the moment when Sydney welcomed in 2023 with a breathtaking fireworks show over its iconic harbor. Now just over a couple of hours to the New Year here in Hong Kong and also in Taiwan, and across Mainland China, we are counting it down live with you as the world brings in 2023.

And joining us now live from Beijing is actor and singer, Aarif Lee. Aarif, so nice to meet you. Happy New Year. How are you celebrating tonight?

AARIF LEE, ACTOR/SINGER: Happy New Year. What a pleasure. I'm actually I'm just having a bit of downtime. Lucky enough to have a house party tonight, so, yes, just taking it easy, taking it back, having a bit of hot pot and counting in the New Year.

STOUT: A hot pot house party sounds ideal. Looking back at 2022, was it a big year for you? You sing, you act, you're in movies and TV. You're also a big brand ambassador.

LEE: Yes. I think 2022 was -- it was a bit of a ride for everyone. But I think in general, I find myself in a very fortunate position. And I did some stuff I was pretty proud of. Our film "Wolf Pack" came out in '22, which was like my first big action kind of military film was about mercenaries. So that was like a really great film that I'm very proud of. And, yes, I look forward to doing more action.

You know, action is such an international language. I just hope to do more Chinese action films and connect with more audiences around the world.

STOUT: Yes. I love how you describe action being an international language. It is. So looking ahead to 2023, what's next and what kind of opportunity do you see for you?

LEE: 2023 I think the best thing is you got to get your fundamentals right. I think that's the best way to kind of capitalize on opportunities that are presented to you. So I'm going to keep on training hard, keep on dreaming, keep on hoping to bring this action language to audiences around the world.

There are some stuff in the works that I wish I could talk about now, but I'm really excited about the films I'm going to be doing in 2023. And I hope that the audiences around the world will love it just as much as I do.

STOUT: Got you. We'll see the trailer, we'll see the press when it comes out. Now, next year is going to be a big one for everyone across China, across Asia as it come out of a very long pandemic. What are your hopes for 2023? And, Aarif, what's your message to fans across the region and around the world?

LEE: I think -- I know it sounds cheesy, it sounds a bit too Ms. Congeniality but, you know, world peace, love, empathy. I think we can really use more love and more sharing, and more togetherness for 2023.

[08:45:12] I think, you know, there are good times, sometimes there are bad times, but whatever times they are, I think it's best if we kind of buckle up hand in hand, stride back and forth together. So I'm really looking forward to -- I want to bring it back to the action films so that's why I like action so much because I feel like it really can connect with just people from different cultures and different languages. And I just really am excited to meet more fans from around the world. And I really do wish all the best for everyone around the entire world for 2023.

STOUT: Thank you, Aarif. Thank you so much. And wishing you the best, especially as you continue with your career, launch more action movies, but more near term enjoy that hot pot tonight as you sit side by side with friends and family there in Beijing. Aarif Lee, happy New Year. Take care.

Now, you don't have to be in the real world at all, actually, to bring in the New Year. In fact, a very special celebration is taking place right now in the Metaverse, featuring some pretty big names like DJ Steve Aoki. And I got a sneak peek to see how the virtual is becoming the new reality.


STOUT (voice-over): It's a tradition that's lasted more than 100 years, crowds of revelers ringing in the New Year at New York City's Times Square. But in the next century, our New Year's celebrations could look more like this.

(on camera): OK. I'm trying to find you right now, I am totally lost.

(voice-over): Fireworks, flying sharks and all.

(on camera): I just walked through a spider.

(voice-over): Welcome to Midnight in the Metaverse, a 2023 New Year's Eve party hosted virtually on the Sandbox.

(on camera): I can do this. Junk, go up. I could do that.

(voice-over): It's one of several gaming platforms that allow users to access a 2D or 3D online world of social interaction.

SEBASTIEN BORGET, C-FOUNDER/COO, THE SANDBOX: The Sandbox is like one part, is we're building the part of this open metaverse. We are building a decentralized gaming virtual world where anyone can become a creator, own the content they create, sell it, use it, explore, et cetera.

STOUT (voice-over): Co-founder Sebastien Borget says people come here for community to have fun. You don't even need to get off your chair to get down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, are you ready?

STOUT: I'm dancing. (voice-over): Or to move through its abstract pixelated world, the

party features multiple musical performances. On this stage, Grammy nominated DJ and producer Steve Aoki, the artist behind the "Avatar" is all in on this type of tech, which he says offer fans a more immersive way to interact with his music.

STEVE AOKI, DJ: This is the way you get to party with me in that world. I don't think it's too crazy to say a lot of people want to be in the Metaverse. We have to accept that the Metaverse, the digital space, is a part of our identity, part of the way we socialize, part of the way we live life. Millions and millions of people are already in that space.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Introducing Times Square's first ever virtual New Year's celebration.

STOUT (voice-over): Companies like the Sandbox see events as one way to attract even more. The owner of One Times Square, which hosts the New Year's Eve ball drop in New York, also launched an online world for partygoers. Its 2021 virtual countdown reached more than 3.7 million people around the world they say.

The Sandbox drew 17 million users in ten weeks between August and November this year. Sebastien tells me. That type of engagement is also drawing capital. Investors put more than $120 billion into the Metaverse in the first five months of 2022 according to a recent report from consulting firm McKinsey. They say it could generate up to $5 trillion in economic impact globally by 2030, scale that may be hard to fathom here and now, especially in a game where you're rubbing shoulders with dancing gorillas when some prefer celebrating in the real world.

(on camera): You have some very big goals, and what's your response to people who say this is just a lot of hype?

BORGET: Well, I think like the Metaverse is definitely both a technological and social disruption that is already in the making. It will take time to become a mainstream a bit, but I think like Sandbox is well-positioned for within three, five years, maybe ten, become one of the leading actors in this open Metaverse.

STOUT (voice-over): That fully immersive 3D digital world, if it's realized, could be how we all spend the next New Years.



STOUT: OK. Let's get back to reality. Let's bring up some live pictures from Seoul, which is about an hour away from the New Year. And up next, we'll check back in with our correspondents fanned out all across the region. And we haven't grabbed a drink just yet, we might just have the perfect cocktail for you. In just a moment, I'll show you a refreshing way to bring in 2023 right here at the Peninsula in Hong Kong.


STOUT: Refreshing, citrusy, there's a funky kick to it, there's a twist. And stay with us, more of our New Year's Eve live special after this short break.



FAWAD KHAN, PAKISTANI ACTOR: My hopes for the coming year, I pray and hope first and foremost for a more peaceful, unified, stable and economically prosperous Pakistan across all income groups, and a much cleaner future, a much more stable and peaceful future for our children in the years to come. It's a lot of work to do, and I hope we can all contribute.


STOUT: Thanks to legendary actor Fawad Khan there. He will join me live later on our New Year's Eve Live Special, so stick around and do stay tuned for that. Now, we're just about an hour into our special coverage of New Year's Eve Live where we ring in celebrations around the world. And there is a whole lot more to come.

The party is still going strong down under. Australians among the first to welcome 2023, and they did it with a bang. This fireworks extravaganza lit up the sky over Sydney's iconic harbor. About an hour from now, South Korea and Japan will also usher in a brand new year.

Now, we have reporters spread out across the region. We got Will Ripley in Taipei with the countdown parties underway, Selina Wang in Shanghai. But first, let's go to Paula Hancocks in Seoul. Paula?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kristie, we can almost reach out and touch 2023 here in South Korea. Now, the temperatures may be sub zero but the atmosphere here is warm. Everybody is getting excited for just over an hour's time here at the Lotte World Tower, the tallest building in Korea where we will see those fireworks. And also at the Bosingak bell ringing ceremony, a traditional ceremony which has been going since 1953.

RIPLEY: It may be raining here in the Taiwanese capital but the fireworks show will go on, and the crowds are starting to gather here outside of Taipei 101, where we are going to get, at the stroke of midnight, a visual feast, five minutes of fireworks. A team of more than 60 people have been setting up a very high tech 360 degree display this year. And the crowds are getting excited.

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There is so much excitement and relief here in Shanghai. Across China, people finally have their freedom back after three years of harsh lockdowns and COVID restrictions. Earlier, I was out on the Bund where there were crowds of people packed just to see this iconic, gorgeous view of Shanghai.

We also stopped by the Lantern Festival in Yu Garden, n ancient city temple. People there were waiting in long lines to eat street food. It felt like were transported to another world where people could finally party, reunite with family, just like they used to.


RIPLEY (voice-over): Wow. The excitement is building, Selina, Will and Paula, many thanks indeed and we'll check in again with you shortly.

Right now, I'm at the Peninsula Hotel here in Hong Kong with this incredible view but that's not all that's remarkable here. Because inside, the hotel's head mixologistis celebrating the New Year, pouring a very special, and if I may add, delicious cocktail. And the secret is in the sauce. Let's head to the bar.


STOUT (voice-over): In a corner of Hong Kong's Peninsula Hotel, head mixologist Francois Cavelier is about to make me a new cocktail with a uniquely Hong Kong twist. The XO Elixir takes its name from XO sauce, a condiment with a rich umami flavor. Legend has it the sauce was invented here at the Peninsula back in the 1980s.

(on camera): XO sauce is like a chili sauce that you have with Chinese foods. You have usually dried seafood, you have chilies, you have garlic, you have onions in there. This is going to go into my cocktail?


STOUT: OK, no chili.

CAVELIER: It's made from Cognac, local dried fruit and Chinese ham.

STOUT: So it's a cocktail version of the XO sauce.

CAVELIER: Exactly.

STOUT (voice-over): Stir that with cognac, vermouth and Clementine brandy. And for finishing touch, gold leaf.

(on camera): Wow. Refreshing, citrusy, there's a funky kick to it. There's a twist. Is this a cocktail I can only have here at the Peninsula in Hong Kong?

CAVELIER: Exactly, only here.

STOUT: This is beautiful. Cheers. Thank you so much. Can I have some more?


STOUT: And I got the cocktail right here, my friends, the XO Elixir. I'm going to have a sip of it on live TV. Hold on. That's good. It does have that twist, that kick. And there is that gin and ham of the XO sauce which is weird but in a good way. This is delicious.

Thank you for joining us. I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. We've got the day's news after a quick break. The CNN special coverage New Year's Eve Live continues throughout the day. My friend Paula Newton and I will see you back here in one hour. Do stay with us. Cheers.