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CNN Live Event/Special

East Asia Rings In 2023; Chinese Celebrates As COVID Restrictions End; K-Pop: BTS Going On First Break In Nearly 10 Years; Taiwan's Tallest Building To Host Fireworks Display; Taiwan's Tallest Building To Host Fireworks Display; Pakistani Star Fawad Khan's Latest Film Smashes Records; Japan's Anri Rocks 45 Years Of Music Stardom; Tokorozawa Sakura Town Sparkles With Imagination. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired December 31, 2022 - 10:00   ET



KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Welcome back. You are looking live at the Lotte tower in Seoul, South Korea, just three minutes until midnight there. We want to welcome you to CNN special coverage of New Year's Eve Live. And this is the view from the historic Peninsula Hotel here in Hong Kong with Victoria Harbour and the skyline behind me.

I'm Kristie Lu Stout. And all day long, CNN is taking you around the world as we celebrate 2023 with you in style until everyone, everywhere brings in the New Year. But stay with us over the coming hours as we get set to party like it's 2023 in Shanghai, in Taipei, Bangkok, and beyond, all the way until the ball drops in New York.

Just moments, Japan and the Koreas all hit midnight. Let's start in Seoul with CNN's Paula Hancocks, who is near Lotte Tower around all the festivities. She joins us now. And, Paula, the Lotte World Tower fireworks is a sight to behold.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTENTIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is and they are trying to build the suspense here, Kristie. They have just turned out all the lights two minutes before a big whoop came from the crowd, trying to build up the excitement.

In about 60 seconds, you will see the beginning of the countdown on the side of this building. This is the tallest building in South Korea. It's the fifth tallest in the world, the Lotte World Tower. And this is where they will be carrying out some fireworks tonight.

Though it is a fairly calm and clear night which is very good news. It means across Seoul, you may be able to see these fireworks. So if you've got any kind of view of this building, look out of your window now.

There is also a more traditional ceremony, the bell ringing ceremony which will take place just in Downtown Seoul. You can see that the countdown has begun and they are very excited here, 51, 50, the more traditional side of it. There will be 33 rings of the bell. What it's meant to do is chase out the darkness of the old year and welcome the new.

Now, we have spoken to many people here tonight and that is what they say they want. They want to chase away the bad memories of 2022. They want to look towards a new year, a new opportunity and new excitement and there is excitement here. It is subzero temperatures, but the atmosphere is really warm.


I can see just off camera someone jumping up with excitement and it is building up to this moment, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.


LU STOUT: Seoul, South Korea. Incredible strobing light effects there in Seoul, South Korea, bringing in a brand-new year. We got CNN's Paula Hancock standing by.

And, Paula, got to love the boogie woogie music though too, the soundtrack is fine. And despite the sub-zero temperatures, you're out there, revelers are out there. Describe the scene as the clock turn midnight in Seoul. Paula.

(technical difficulty) now that it's 2023 in South Korea. Paula.

HANCOCKS: A scene, well, from the bell ringing, the traditional ceremony, in a different part of Seoul, 33 rings, we understand, from that bell. And it is to chase out the darkness to welcome the new. And many people we have spoken to here, say they want the darkness gone. They look at what happened in 2022 with COVID and they want to move on. They want restrictions to be lifted and they want 2023 to be better. So here, definitely, there is a sense of optimism that things are going (technical difficulty)

LU STOUT: All right. It was Paula Hancocks reporting live for us. So, Paula, thank you very much indeed for that.

Loving the strobe effects. The dynamic lights display there at Lotte World Tower in Seoul, South Korea. To everyone there in the Korean Peninsula ushering in a brand-new year, Happy New Year.

And in the next hour, much of Asia will leap into 2023, including China, including the Philippines, as well as Taiwan, which is where we will find Will Ripley in Taipei. Will joins us now.


And will, it was the Lotte World Tower that was the launching pad to usher in the New Year. There were you are, it's Taipei 101.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kristie, I don't want to have a cross-country competition going on here, but let's just say, wait another hour, because you're going to see one heck of a show here at Taipei 101. This was the tallest building in the world. (technical difficulty)


LU STOUT: A beautiful message of togetherness there and welcome back to our special coverage of New Year's Eve Live. CNN is taking you around the world as we ring in 2023. And about 50 minutes from now, we'll be partying here in Hong Kong. As you take a live look on the streets and all along the Victoria Harbour here in Hong Kong. Also, you got Taiwan, Singapore, China, all counting down to 2023.

And for the nearly one and a half billion people living in China, 2023 is heralding a new day. The government dropping in Zero COVID policy and people are celebrating. CNN's Selina Wang shows us from Beijing.



SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: People in China will take any opportunity to celebrate. The country is finally opening up after years of lock downs, abandoning its zero COVID policy. There's hope that 2023 will look more like that.

This year, China even managed to pull off the Beijing Winter Olympics.

Here we go. We're taking off.

I flew into Beijing for my previous posting and Tokyo to cover the games in January.

First thing I saw walking off the airplane is a sea of hazmat suits.

With literal walls separating us from the rest of China.

They said the police will take me if I were to walk out of the gate.

In 2022, China became a giant sanitized bubble under constant high- tech surveillance. The country growing more isolated. As ties fray with the West and grow tighter with Russia, military tensions rise over Taiwan.

While the man who's calling the shots, Xi Jinping, stepped into an unprecedented third term as China's supreme leader this year. His goal is to make China great again and turn it into a technological superpower.

And not just on Earth. This year, China's successfully launched crewed missions to its new space station, fueling national pride.

2022 also marked a milestone for China's national animal, 15 panda cubs were born at the Chengdu Research Base alone.

And next year, China is preparing to host the Asian Games, an event that people hope will boost the COVID-battered economy and morale. There's relief and joy that people have their freedom back.

Finally, in 2023, there's hope people in China can party and travel without fear, just like they used to. (END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: And CNN's Selina Wang joins us now live from Shanghai. And Selina, you know, 2022 has been such a challenging year for China and a painful transition from zero COVID is still underway. How strong is a sense of optimism among people there as we head into a brand-new year?

WANG: There's a lot of optimism, Kristie, because finally, there's been so much anticipation for this moment for when people could see the light at the end of the tunnel for when zero COVID restrictions would be dropped. And, really, 2023 for this country, it's truly ushering in a new world. It's like the world here changed overnight.

It's hard to imagine, Kristie, that just weeks ago, so many people in this country, they were stuck in quarantine facilities, in harsh lockdowns. We had to scan our health codes everywhere we went. Anytime we went into a mall, a coffee shop, a restaurant, there was a threat or health codes could turn red or we be caught in some sort of snap lockdown.

But when I'm out on the streets of Shanghai, earlier, I was out on the bus [ph], I was also out at the lantern festival, there was a sense of relief and hope that next year would be better, that their lives could really go back to normal.

And when I was at that lantern festival, Kristie, I felt like I was transported to life before the pandemic, minus all the people wearing their masks. And a lot of people told me exactly that. Take a listen to what else they told me.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): For a whole year, most of my time was under lockdown. And the New Year, optimism will outweigh pessimism for me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I hope to come and go freely when I return to school.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We have recovered from COVID-19 so there are no concerns now. I hope to return to my old life. That's my vision of the future.


WANG: And it was so surreal and bizarre to see crowds of people. There were long lines of people waiting to eat street food. My producer and I, we had to hunt everywhere to find Tanghulu, this candied fruit that is nostalgic and very popular around the holidays because it was sold out everywhere. People were so excited. They just wanted to feel the holiday spirit, Kristie.

LU STOUT: This is the sticks with the candy haul on it, right? They look like magic wands. Absolutely delicious and fun to wave around. You know, and the party is going to continue there. And across much of East Asia, Selina, because we're only a few weeks away from the Lunar New Year. We're then going to hop into the Year of the Rabbit, right?

WANG: Yes, exactly. I mean, in many ways tonight is really like a warm up for the Lunar New Year that's going to be coming up in a few weeks. And for three years, people went through so much sacrifice and isolation. People were unable to go back to their hometowns because they were in lockdown or their hometowns were in lockdowns because of travel restrictions.

So, finally, there's so much excitement to be reunited. And a lot of the people I spoke to said, that's what they were most excited for in 2023, in the year of the rabbit, to finally be with their families. And virtually, everybody I've spoken to out on the street said, they're out and about, they're fearless, because they've already gotten COVID and they've recovered, so they're not scared of it anymore.


Of course, there are some concerns from people that if their family members back home haven't already gotten COVID, that they might transmit the virus to their family members, but for people whose entire families have had COVID and they're recovered, they're ready to party, they're ready to celebrate. They're ready to eat Tanghulu, as you perfectly described, Kristie. And, literally, I'm not joking when I said we were hunting at every food stall for that street food and it was almost completely sold out.

LU STOUT: Selina, you and your producer, get back in line. You're determined -- you have to find this. You need to take a photograph. You need to share it with me. We need to air it on CNN. You're going to get this special snack. You deserve it.

CNN's Selina Wang reporting -- or live from Shanghai. To you and the team, happy New Year. We will talk very, very soon, my friend.

Now, East Asia is ringing in the New Year. And this was the scene moments ago in Seoul, South Korea where 2023 has just arrived there. There was a spectacular LED light show that lit up the Lotte World Tower in Seoul and the New Year's party is well underway.

And to the south, a dazzling display of fireworks lit up the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge, Eastern Australia is more than two hours into the New Year. And our Angus Watson has been in the middle of it all.


ANGUS WATSON, CNN PRODUCER: Happy New Year from Sydney, Australia where a dazzling fireworks display lit up the harbor here as the city became one of the first around the world to welcome in 2023 and all the hopes that a new year brings.

Seven tons of pyrotechnics exploded in the sky here in a dazzling show, which culminated in the Sydney Harbour Bridge lit up as a rainbow and a symbol of LGBTQ pride of diversity and inclusion. This is a party years in the making, as COVID restrictions have kept things quiet. People out now to celebrate, progress made, and their hopes for the year to come.

Angus Watson, CNN.


LU STOUT: And New Zealand welcomed the New Year with a dazzling display of light and sound. New Zealanders are, among the first in the world to celebrate the arrival of 2023. The firework show from Auckland's 328-meter tall Sky Tower returned after last year celebrations were canceled due to the Omicron variant. But as you can see, it was well worth the wait.

Coming up next right here on CNN, look, it was the year that fans of BTS had their hearts broken when it was announced that the supergroup would go on hiatus, that its members have joined the military. So what might the New Year hold? And what does it mean for the fans? Find out next.


CEDARBOUGH SAEJI, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, PUSAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY: The primary fan is a female fan. So now we see these groups that are being targeted at female audiences.


LU STOUT: And it's a tall order each year in Taiwan. A pyrotechnic display using the city's most iconic skyscraper as its backdrop. Ahead, we'll meet the man behind the magic.

And let's not forget the all-important New Year's resolutions we heard from K-pop superstars' IVE about their hopes for the year ahead.


(Foreign Language)




LU STOUT: And welcome back to CNN's New Year's Eve Live. It is already a new year in South Korea. They've been partying there like it's 2023 for almost half an hour, at the stroke of midnight in Seoul. As you can see, it was quite an impressive light show at the Lotte Tower, one of the world's top 10 tallest buildings.

And there is still much more to come as we continue to count down the New Year in each region around the world. Now one thing that is not likely to change the New Year is the enormous popularity of K-pop. Aboard in South Korea, the exuberant music has found in millions of fans worldwide. But as 2023 arrives, K-pop is singing a different tune, women and social causes now hitting the high notes. And Paula Hancocks tracks the rhythm from Seoul.



HANCOCKS: The New Year will start very differently for one member of K-pop sensation, BTS. The oldest Jin revealed his new haircut earlier this month, before entering boot camp to start his mandatory 18-month military service. One by one, others in the group will follow keeping the seven member group apart, at least until 2025.

But as they take their first break in nearly 10 years, the question many are asking is, what will 2023 look like without BTS? The first thing K-pop watchers will tell you is that there's so much more to K- pop than just one band.

YOONHA KIM, K-POP MUSIC CRITIC (through translator): The most notable is, of course, the rapid emergence of female idol groups. 2022 was the year they found unprecedented popularity.

HANCOCKS: In addition to the already massively popular Blackpink, new female groups like Le Sserafim and NewJeans debut this year to overnight success, but critics say that's not the whole story.

KIM (through translator): Feminism and other side guides that are championed by Gen-Z are quickly flowing into K-pop and its content, rather than offering products that serve the male gaze like in the past, the producers and consumers both are focusing on content that places women at the center.

HANCOCKS: And the music business is fully embracing the wave.

SAEJI: Current company executives are becoming more aware that the primary fan is a female fan. So now we see these groups that are being targeted at female audiences.

HANCOCKS: Not only the female audience, but international fans are influencing K-pop, encouraging their favorite artists to champion social causes and use fan networks to launch campaigns. BTS spoke out against anti-Asian violence at the White House this year. They have also donated to Black Lives Matter. A big shift for Korean artists who usually stay away from social issues, especially those outside that border.


SAEJI: It's amazing how K-pop fan networks have actually been utilized for political causes around the world. We have seen K-pop fan networks where people already know how to contact each other online and they are circulating calls to action.

HANCOCKS: From the streets of Bangkok to the climate change conference in Egypt, the young generation of K-pop fans are gathering for democracy and climate action. UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I believe that K-pop music can connect to the new generation that sometimes has no clue of what's happening with Thai politics. I think it really helps connect and encourages them to join the movement.

HANCOCKS: Ten years ago when Psy's Gangnam Style took the world by storm, many wondered whether it was a one hit wonder.

It was unthinkable back then, but Gangnam, home of much of K-pop's management and also a particularly recognizable statue would be visited by K-pop fans from around the world for years to come.

One expert told CNN that the success of K-pop actually goes beyond K- pop itself, saying that the flow of popular culture was once from the West to the rest of the world. That was turned on its head by K-pop and its fans, which means now that the next BTS may not come from Korea, it may not even come from Asia. The next big thing could be from anywhere in the world.


HANCOCKS: So we are being told, 2023 is the year of the girl bands. Now, we have been hearing for YG Entertainment, for weeks now, saying that at midnight so, about a half an hour ago, they were going to launch a new girl band. The first that they had launched since Blackpink back in 2016. And we all know how popular Blackpink have become.

They have now launched a new seven-member girl band, Baby Monster. That's all we know at this point. I'm sure we will know a lot more in the coming days as YG Entertainment certainly picked it to a good time and certainly has been building up the tension and the suspense for this new girl band.

And, of course, don't forget the boy bands. They will not be forgotten about, BTS will not be forgotten about. There is, we are being told, a commemorative stamp coming out for them in June of this year. Kristie.

LU STOUT: Oh, my goodness. Paula, you're giving us so much good gossip right now. Baby Monster, the name of new girl a K-pop band that's coming out. You got the stamp coming out for BTS. Any other highlights to come perhaps a concert in store for you to check out a K-pop act in Seoul? Is that on your agenda for 2023, Paula?

HANCOCKS: No. Computer says no, I'm afraid, Kristie.

LU STOUT: Look, Blackpink, they're coming here to Hong Kong, actually. Very, very soon. I did not rally to get the tickets, but I'll be hearing all the anecdotal stories about it. So much excitement about that. Major, major K-pop ad, female act coming to town.

Paula Hancocks, we thank you for your look back and look forward K-pop 2022-2023. And happy New Year to you and the crew. Take care, Paula Hancocks, there, after we all witnessed that beautiful display at Lotte World Tower. Happy New Year.

Now, we are about 30 minutes away. The stroke of midnight in China in Hong Kong, in the Philippines, and in Taiwan.

CNN's Will Ripley is in Taipei for us right now. And, Will, you are at one of the best spots in the world to ring in the New Year. Could you describe the scene?

RIPLEY: Not only one of the best spots in the world, but we have one of the best vantage points because just over that shoulder, despite how low the clouds are, we have a very great view of Taipei 101, which we're going to give you folks at the top of the hour when the clock strikes midnight and we get five full minutes of fireworks. This show, which is 18 years old, is getting longer and longer every year. And it usually draws a crowd of well over a million.

Now, we were thinking earlier maybe because of this rain, people wouldn't come out. Oh, no. As you can see, by all the umbrellas behind me, people are here, decked out in their full rain gear. The underground transit system is running 24/7 for the next two days, so people can safely get in and out of Central Taipei to watch Taiwan, now reopened to the world completely after the pandemic. Welcome 2023.


RIPLEY: New Year fireworks in 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 launch in 2005.

MICHAEL LIU, VICE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF OPERATION OFFICER, TAIPEI 101: Called the team, we thought about how to celebrate Taipei 101 tower to be the world's tallest building at that time. So we did it for the celebration.

And the next year people was asking, like, are we going to play it again? So until now. It's completely 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: It was back in 2019 that CNN named Taipei as one of the top ten places in the world to ring in the New Year. Right on par with Times Square in New York or Sydney Harbor where you saw that magnificent show earlier, we're going to have another magnificent show for you at the very top of the hour as we ring in the New Year from Taipei 101.

And after what we've been through these last few years with the pandemic, with the war in Ukraine, and I have just returned back from there. And I can tell you, Kristie, it is such an inspiration to see people out here happy, enjoying life and full of optimism and positivity about what the year ahead could bring. Because we've certainly around the world been through a lot, haven't we?

RIPLEY (voice-over): I love that message. I love that messaging. Will. And you know what, the countdown is on. We are less than 30 minutes away from the major party when they're in Taipei, Taipei 101, the pyrotechnic display begins in Taiwan as well as rest of East Asia, ushers in a brand new year. But I got to ask you, the weather there, not ideal. Is it dampening spirits at all?

RIPLEY: Well, I'll put it this way, Kristie. There's an umbrella over me and right before we came on the air, there was a wind gust and all of the water that had accumulated just kind of dumped on my shoulder here. It's not dampening my spirits. And I think judging from the crowd behind me, it's not dampening their spirits either.

People are excited to be out. Look, the Lunar New Year is a time for family and time for people to go home. But here in the Taiwanese capital, New Year's Eve is a time to come to the city center. It's the two days of the year that they run the trains around the clock so you can come in and out at any hour of the day. It's a younger crowd. It's an energetic crowd. We made our way through the very thick crowd.

We got some street food. We got some fried chicken. If you've never had fried chicken in Taiwan, let me tell you, it is delicious. And fried pork as well, not to give you the full menu, Kristie, but we'll put it in this way. It was delicious and we're ready for a party. We got our carbs, we got our energy, and we're ready to see these fireworks. Right now, you can actually see the very top of Taipei 101. The clouds were low but they have now risen up. One other thing I'm told to expect, Kristie, is that as the fireworks show commences, all the smoke eventually makes its way down to us, so it might be even more of an added a smoky effect by the time we talk to you live at the end of the fireworks. I'll keep you posted but we're really excited here.

STOUT: That's right. It's just atmosphere, right? But the energy there, without a doubt, is big and it's getting bigger. The countdown is on. Will Ripley, thank you so much. Will Ripley there out and about enjoying Taipei on this New Year's Eve. We'll check in with him later.

Still ahead right here on CNN's New Year's Eve Live Special, the resurrection of a popular '80s Japanese genre, city pop is returning to the music scene but its biggest icon never left. We meet with singer songwriter Anri coming up. Plus, Pakistani superstar Fawad Khan joins us. His latest film the "The Legend of Maula Jatt" is waking box office records. Stay with us more of our New Year's Eve Live Special after this short break.



STOUT: And 2023 arrives with a bang in Australia. More than a million revelers gathered in Sydney to watch one of the world's most popular fireworks displays. It was awesome. And then two hours later, another stunning show, this one over Lotte World Tower in Seoul. And in Pakistan, the party is just gearing up. The countdown to 2023 is on with about three and a half hours until the official start of the New Year, an epic fireworks display is set to take place at the Eiffel Tower replica in Bahria Town, Lahore.

And my next special guest is Fawad Khan, the multi-award winning Pakistani actor. His latest film, "The Legend of Maula Jatt," is doing big business at the box office both domestically and internationally. Fawad Khan joins us now from Houston, Texas.

Wow. Sir, thank you for joining us. Welcome to CNN. Happy New Year. And how do you plan to bring in the New Year?

FAWAD KHAN, ACTOR: Hi, Kristie. Thank you for having me and happy New Year to you. How to plan to ring it in, we just have a small gathering with new friends. I just came to visit and that's it. Yes, just be spending the New Year with them.

STOUT: Sounds cool. Nice and cozy. Looking back at 2022 massive with the release of "Legend of Maula Jatt," do you consider 2022 a very big year for you?

KHAN: I feel that 2022 has been a big year, approximately similar as a whole. It's been big for me. Obviously, I'm a small part of the entire setup, the entire industry, but I think with the amount of business this film has done and the kind of boundaries it's pushed as far as the industry standards and business, and even the style of filmmaking is concerned, I think is going to have a profound effect in the years to come. And I hope it keeps continuing like that, because it's been very long since the second coming for the industry and for it to actually reach so far and wide across the globe, and I hope it does now.

STOUT: The effect has been, as you said, profound. It has been a huge international success, and it may soon be released India. Just how significant would that be?

KHAN: Well, I think would be great obviously. It's a great way to hand shake, and I think, you know, it's kind of like those sweets and delights we sent across to one another in good times, and, you know, like occasions and Diwali.

So, I mean, I think the films and music is that kind of an exchange, which would be great for the diplomacy between the two countries. But I think things are a bit heated still now so let's see. I've heard it may release but I've heard it may not as well, so let's see.

STOUT: We'll see. Fingers crossed with that. I also want to ask you about Ms. Marvel series that my daughter and I absolutely enjoyed over the summer. You made your MCU debut with the character Hassan in this Disney Plus series that was fun. It was action packed, but it was also moving. I had a powerful history lesson about Pakistan and India's history of partition, and I wanted to ask you, on a personal level, what did that project mean to you?

KHAN: On a personal level. Well, I feel that it's always good to be reminded of your history and where you're coming from. Because if it serves the purpose of keeping you grounded and also keeping you focused on carrying on certain traditions because that is your identity at the end of the day, you can't run away from it, right, even if you want to.

But I see that there's a great pride to be taken in the culture of the subcontinent. And the partition between Pakistan and India is, I think, was one of the major events in the 20th century that has not been viewed by the global audience as much, and they don't know about it as much. Things got much more bloodier, got more violent, and a lot of people made a lot of sacrifices to find a new life for themselves. The migration process was very painful, all of these migrants moving across from here to there, there to here.

So representing that, being a part of that, being a part of history being told, obviously, this is popular media, so it is not told completely but being a part of that process is always grounding, it's always moving.

STOUT: Well, Fawad, you've done such impactful work. Representation is just so important. We're a little bit star struck here. Thank you for joining us here on CNN, Fawad Khan and happy New Year, all the best. Take care.

Now keeping here, you're watching CNN's New Year's Eve Live and come to you live from Hong Kong. In Japan, 2023 is going to be all about music. The music that is of an enduring star, her name is Anri. And since the 1970s, Anri has rocked Japanese music fans with a style called city pop. And that now, 45 years after Anri began thrilling her audiences may be more popular than ever. I want you to take to listen to this.


STOUT (voice-over): As pops go, this one is irresistible. Take in the fizzy optimistic hooks of city pop. The soundtrack of Japan, the late '70s and Gogo '80s and its pop queen.

ANRI, SINGER SONGWRITER: Hi. I'm singer songwriter Anri. Nice to meet you all.

STOUT (voice-over): At the age of 17, Anri made her debut in 1978 at the cusp of Japan's economic boom.

ANRI (through translation): The whole country, Japan itself, was in a shiny bubble era. It was a glamorous time. And because of the prosperity of the time, everyone had a smile on their faces.

STOUT (voice-over): More than four decades and 50 albums on, she continues to perform for concert goers, yearning for that city pop sound. In the early '90s, when the country's economic bubble burst, the genre fell out of fashion but it has found new fans thanks to a revival in Japan and beyond.

American DJ Van Paugam regularly hosts city pop DJ nights in Chicago and has taken his mixes on the road to audiences in Miami, New York, Berlin and Paris.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Do you think city pop is reaching an even wider audience today than its heyday back in the late '70s, early '80s?

VAN PAUGAM, CITY POP DJ: Thanks to the internet, I think it has a bigger audience than it had when it was just domestic in Japan. Anri's longevity as an artist is just -- it's profound seeing her career and seeing her discography, she has such an amazing voice. It's iconic.

STOUT (voice-over): Outside Tokyo, her fans light up when they hear Anri's city pop classic.

YUKIKO KASHIWAGI, ANRI FAN (through translation): My child says Anri's songs are good songs and sings along with me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is my singing princess.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): My daughters grew up listening to her songs since they were small, so when I play her music, all my family sing together.


STOUT (voice-over): But it's more than just nostalgia. It's a soundtrack to conjure joy.

ANRI (through translation): What I always keep in mind when writing songs is that I want to make people happy. On top of that, I want to make good melodies and good music for people to listen to.

STOUT (voice-over): In 2023, Anri will mark her 45th year in the music business and her fans will celebrate an enduring pop beat that transcends both quarters and time.


STOUT: City pop is firmly on my 2023 playlist. And CNN Selina Wang, who joins us now from Shanghai, she understands the feeling. Selina, you know Anri and you know what it's like going to her concerts.

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are incredible., Kristie. It's a total immersive experience. It's not just her amazing vocals but it's also her dancing, the set design, the lighting, the live band which is incredible. She's been collaborating with lots of the band members for decades. They write a lot of their music together.

I've had the pleasure to get to know her offstage because she is a close friend of her longtime Japan producer, Junko Ogura. And she's just this incredible, hard working, kind, humble person. I am just in awe of her.

She's been doing this for more than 40 years, countless concerts and albums. But she told me she still gets nervous every time before she performs because she wants to constantly outdo herself. She wants to keep on creating. She wants to keep on innovating and making it a better and better performance for her fans.

Now, I went to a few of her concerts during the pandemic. And in the first one in 2021, people actually weren't allowed to get out of their chairs. They had to keep their masks on the whole time because of pandemic restrictions. But still, Kristie, you would be amazed. It was a sold out concert and you could just tell that people were dying to get out of their chairs and just start dancing.

But really as your story so perfectly laid out, her music transcends generations. She is having resurgence around the world and with the young generation in Japan as well, they are sampling her music in different genres. They're remixing it. She's just an iconic artist, Kristie.

STOUT: She's such an icon, Selina and we're going to 2023. It's going to be the 45th anniversary of her career. A number of hit albums -- I got the old school LP albums here, freshly in from Tokyo. Well, this one comes from 1988 but this is one of her biggest hits, "Boogie Woogie Mainland." City pop is a fun to listen. It's great. Selina, thank you for sharing your views on Anri and the genre and, of course, we'll be talking to you at the top of the hour. We bring in a New Year in Shanghai as well. Thank you, Selina. Happy New Year. We'll talk again soon.

You're watching CNN New Year's Eve Live. And coming up, the countdown to 2023 is just minutes away here in Hong Kong, and we're going to get you ready to party. Plus, a new year and a whole new world of exploration with COVID travel restrictions lifted in Asia. We'll get a sneak peek of Sakura Town, a brand new pop culture complex in Japan. All of that ahead on our New Year's Eve Live Special but first, South Korean actor Lee Byung-Hun shares his hope for 2023.


LEE BYUNG-HUN, SOUTH KOREAN ACTOR: My hope for 2023 is for laughter to return to the world. These last few years have been very difficult and many people have lost their ability to laugh. I hope people will once again be able to bring laughter back into their lives. I would like to share a quote from a film that has left an impression on me and also my message to you. Where there is life, there is hope.




STOUT: Welcome back to our New Year's Eve Live Special. Coming to you live from the Hong Kong Peninsula Hotel. And here at the Peninsula, the city's oldest hotel, people already are partying hard and revelers, keen to welcome the New Year and a new beginning. Now, 2023 is already being seen in by some major world cities, such as Seoul and Tokyo earlier this hour, and Sydney before that. And we're only around ten minutes or so away from the start of the New Year here in Hong Kong. We're also going to see celebrations in Taiwan as well as Mainland China.

Now, Will Ripley is in Taipei this New Year's Eve. He joins us now. And, Will, the countdown party is underway.

RIPLEY: Yes. Nine minutes is what my watch says until we are going to see Taipei 101, the 101 story skyscraper that has been doing fireworks bigger and longer every year for the last 18 years. They're about to give us a five minute fireworks show at the stroke of midnight. They're expecting more than a million people out here in the Taiwanese capital. A lot of them right here in Central Taipei.

As you can see from the umbrellas behind me, despite the fact that it is raining, this is probably the worst weather they've had in Taiwan in two weeks. It's not dampening spirits out here.

STOUT: All right. Will Ripley in Taipei, thank you so much. Happy New Year. We will talk again in just a few minutes from now.

Now, with COVID restrictions finally falling across East Asia, tourists are discovering a new destination. It's just an hour from Tokyo. It's called Tokorozawa Sakura Town and it's this sparkling new venue filled with grand architecture, dramatic museums, and installations that thrill all the senses and simulate the mind. On this New Year's Eve, let's take a visit.


STOUT (voice-over): This is Tokorozawa Sakura Town, located in Saitama Prefecture, less than an hour drive from Japan's capital, Tokyo. Opened officially in 2020, it's made up of museums, bookstores, restaurants, accommodation and event space. And even this, a modern shrine where people can come pray for their loved ones while taking an art from Yoshitaka Amano, an artist most famous for designing the characters from the renowned Japanese video game series Final Fantasy.

YUKO MAGARIBUCHI, TOKOROZAWA SAKURA TOWN, KADOKAWA CORPORATION (through translation): I don't think there has ever been a complex that mainly focuses on promoting the appeal of pop culture.

STOUT (voice-over): Mr. and Mrs. Chong came all the way here from Hong Kong.

MR. CHONG, TOURIST: It's our 22-year wedding anniversary today, and you can see from my gown that this year I also graduated from my master's program. We came because we wanted to celebrate and take pictures here.

STOUT (voice-over): This is what they came for, the towering Kadokawa Culture Museum. Like the shrine, its design was supervised by renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. Inside, more than 50,000 books make the museum their home. Guests can browse through book street, which leads into one of the structure's biggest highlights. This impressive eight meter high room, aptly named the Bookshelf Theater. Projection mapping brings drama and storytelling into the space.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): I actually saw the top to bottom book display on TV and in a magazine, and had been wanting to see it for myself.

STOUT (voice-over): In the evening here. Sakura Town lights up literally. Visitors can take in this iconic gaming gate, as some have come to call it to the permanent team lab installation called Resonating Life in the Acorn Forest. With more collaborations on the horizon in 2023, Sakura Town hopes to use the complex to bring more of Japanese pop culture to the world.


STOUT: Asia is reopening. The party continues as the CNN Special New Year's Eve Live. I'm Kristie Lu Stout at the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong. We're just moments away from bringing in the New Year across Asia. We're going to take a quick break and then get right back to the festivities. Stay with us.



STOUT: Welcome back. You're looking live at the Victoria Harbor and the gorgeous skyline here in Hong Kong. Just three minutes till midnight now and we want to welcome you back to CNN's special coverage of New Year's Eve Live.

And let's bring it up for you. This is the scene, meanwhile, in Taipei where the fireworks are about to light up the night sky, I'm Kristie Lu Stout. And all day long, CNN is taking you around the world as we celebrate 2023 with you in style until everyone, everywhere brings in the New Year. And stay with us over the coming hours as we get you. Set the party like it's 2023 in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and the Americas, all the way until the ball drops in New York.

And in just moments, just two minutes away, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Singapore, all hit midnight. Let's take you out to Will Ripley who joins us live from Taipei. And, Will, I'm looking at the clock and we are just about a minute and a half away.

RIPLEY: You know, Kristie, as soon as you started speaking, I heard this screams from the crowd kind of erupting and coming closer and closer. The energy here is palpable as we are now just literally seconds away from 2023 here in Taiwan. We're looking up at Taipei 101 and they have the LED light display. They're going to do a countdown here. And, of course, this crowd estimated to be over a million people, even with the rain, it is standing room and I should say umbrella room only here. And we are getting ready for quite a show.

More than 60 people have been working to put on this 360 degree 302nd fireworks display. That's five minutes of fireworks, 101 stories above Central Taipei. I am told that the smoke will come down at some point. We will experience that as we are literally right underneath Taipei 101. The theme this year, Taiwan's reopening to the world after three years of pandemic isolation.

This is an island. This is a democracy that is ready to showcase a positive message of peace on Earth. That's one of the key points that they're going to try to drive home with the fireworks display that you're about to see in just seconds. Peace, a much more peaceful 2023 and having just us return from the war in Ukraine here on this island, which is a flashpoint geopolitically, to see these crowds, to see people from all over the world here in the Taiwanese capital ready to celebrate. It is truly inspirational and we are ready to ring in the New Year and the countdown coming.

STOUT: Well, we're less than 10 seconds away. It's happening here in Hong Kong as well.

RIPLEY: 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

STOUT: Happy New Year.

RIPLEY: Happy New Year.

STOUT: Woahh.


STOUT: Oh, my goodness. OK, all right. Here's the magic here in Hong Kong. Let's take into sites and styles of both Taipei and Hong Kong bringing in a brand new year. Pyrotechnic displays, light displays. Here in Hong Kong, the Victoria Harbor is absolutely full of arty boats and revlos out there in the middle of iconic harbor. Taking in -- wow, the fireworks, the laser beams, the multimedia shows, the conventions that are turned into a countdown clock earlier today. And we've made it. 2022 is over, we are now in 2023. Let's listen in. (FIREWORKS DISPLAY)