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CNN Live Event/Special

Revelers Gather At Taipei 101 Tower To Celebrate; East Asia Rings In 2023; Hong Welcomes 2023; First Vatican Mass After Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's Passing; Shanghai Hosts Iconic Lantern Festival To Ring In New Year; Taiwan Shoots Fireworks Off Tallest High-Rise In Taipei; K-Pop's NCT 127 Set For Superstardom; Pakistani Film "Joyland" Makes Waves In Movie Industry; Hong Kong Retrospective Celebrates The Work Of Yayoi Kusama; Bangkok Celebrates 2023. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired December 31, 2022 - 11:00   ET




KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Welcome back. You're looking live at the Victoria Harbor and the gorgeous skyline here in Hong Kong, just three minutes until midnight now. 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.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Kristie, as soon as you started speaking, I heard these 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.


RIPLEY: 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 300- second 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. Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two one.

LU STOUT: Happy New Year.

RIPLEY: Happy New Year. Yes.

LU STOUT: Oh, my goodness. OK. All right, here's the magic here in Hong Kong. Let's take into sites and sounds 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 (ph) 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.



LU STOUT: Happy New Year. It is already 2023, as you've seen on your screens or perhaps watching along with us here in Asia, in Singapore, in Shanghai, in Taipei, here in Hong Kong. An incredible site here in Hong Kong. This is the first time I've seen five fireworks over the Hong Kong harbor in almost three years.

I can't help but feel just a little bit emotional about it all. Or perhaps it was all the bagpipes that play who the clocks truck midnight and then cooling the gang, started kicking in as well. Partygoers, the party boats are out in the harbor. You can see the strobe effects of the star ferry fleet and the face of the Hong Kong convention center turning into the countdown fall.

Down below me, scores of revelers, well-wishers out on the streets. It was just a few days ago when Hong Kong gave up on all of those social distancing requirements that put a cap on gatherings.

Everyone is out in the streets having a big party. Will Ripley joins me live from Taiwan as well. And Will, wow, you just can't help but feel -- look, Happy New Year, my friend. But, wow, this really feels like a new beginning.

RIPLEY: Happy new year to you, Kristie. You know, this is always my favorite time of year. I've always said that, you know, wherever you spend New Year's Eve into the New Year, it's kind of a predictor of how that next year is going to go. And it sounds like you had a fantastic vantage point where you are.

And I know we had a fantastic view and a fantastic feeling where we are here looking at Taipei 101. We are in the shadow of Taipei 101. I can smell the fireworks, but the smoke didn't blow this way because the wind blew it in another direction. So we got spared that experience. Maybe we'll see if it happens next year.

You know, I was excited for anything to happen here, to be this close to what was the world's tallest building 18 years ago when they first started having fireworks here. And now it is one of the world's tallest towers, and they have one of the world's most spectacular fireworks displays.


We saw 300 seconds, five minutes. It was a display that wrapped around the entire building. No matter where you are, if you have a view of Taipei 101 in the Taiwanese capital tonight you got to see a message of positivity, a message of world peace, a message of hope that 2023 is going to get a heck of a lot better than 2022 was for a lot of people around the world.

And there's optimism and you can feel, you can feel that energy and the fact that people came out here despite some of the worst weather that Taiwan has had in recent weeks. They came out with their ponchos, with their umbrellas and they hugged each other and they kissed the person that they love. And now there are -- some are still here. Lots of them are still here.

Some are clearing out and heading home. The streets around here are closed, but they're keeping the trains running around the clock, which they don't do that very often here in Taiwan, but they do it for two days. It's for this holiday, so people can come here to central Taipei and they can see that spectacular show that you just saw at Taipei 101.

And it is a true privilege to be out here with all of these people from all over the world. I mean, for the first time since Taiwan has reopened, since the pandemic, there are no restrictions when you land here.


RIPLEY: You can come in. You don't have to worry about taking a COVID test or quarantine. And so, you see for the first time on this island in a couple of years, a true sea of multicultural diversity, and it's a fabulous experience. Happy New Year to you, Kristie.

LU STOUT: Happy New Year to you, Will. And you nailed it. New Year's Eve is a time of celebration that we love every year. But it's particularly poignant this year because of themes as you laid out, of reopening, of renewal, of hope, of optimism. And perhaps some of our eagle-eyed viewers picked up on the little rabbit logos that were displayed on the skyscrapers behind me.

That, of course, is making reference to the lunar new year, the year of the rabbit is going to be hopping in next. And a lot of expectation that that's going to be also bringing in a lot of good luck and good fortune ahead.

Will, thank you so much to you and the team there in Taipei. Happy New Year and we'll talk again soon.

Look, so many people around the world ushering a new year. You got also, you know, pretty soon, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, parts of Russia, Indonesia, their next stop. And they will be bringing in the New Year in about 15 minutes from now.

You're watching CNN's New Year's Eve Live. And up next, a lot to look forward to here in Hong Kong. 2023 is shaping up to be quite different than previous years. And I'll discuss the challenges with my colleague, Paula Newton in CNN world headquarters in just a few minutes.

And coming up later on our New Year's Eve Live special, my interview with one of K-pop's hottest groups, NCT 127, will be right back. But first, a New Year's 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 with the national team was something special and fantastic memory and with the Golden Boot, with the Spurs was also something that individually that I dream for.

And 2003, obviously, I wish the better year in 2022, but the most important thing is that I'm in the world, being healthy, and having fun, chasing for their dreams and this is my wish. And, yes, I can't wait to have a 2023 and yes, we see what's going to happen. I can't wait to see in 2023.




PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR: Just stunning. Look at this, there's amazing fireworks as Singapore rang in the New Year. An amazing light show over the harbor there as once again we ring in New Year's 2023. It has arrived throughout east Asia and there are plenty of spectacular fireworks all across the region. I want you to have a look at the celebration still ongoing in Hong Kong. Of course, a synchronization of light and sound illuminating the skies and the harbor as you see it there. And of course, it comes as Hong Kong relaxes its COVID-related restrictions.

We have Kristie Lu Stout there for us, taking it all in. Kristie, happy 2023, my friend. Really, it is so heartwarming to see you there in the middle of the action. You have lived through a turbulent three years. I don't have to remind you, along with the other residents of Hong Kong, I want to ask you, how are people feeling? Is it relief, joy, excitement, maybe even a bit of apprehension?

LU STOUT: There is a huge sense of catharsis right now. There is so much optimism and joy and jubilation here across the territory this evening, as we say, good reddens to 2022 and welcome a brand-New Year. Look, Paula, as you know well, as we've been reporting and talking to each other for the last couple of years, but especially this last year, 2022 was a very tough year for Hong Kong.

Hong Kong was at the mercy of its worst ever COVID-19 outbreak, at the mercy of a zero-COVID policy that disrupted people's lives and livelihoods. It shuttered businesses, it temporarily closed schools, it separated families, it sparked an exodus of many people leaving the city. But we have turned a corner. A lot of those tough pandemic rules have gone away.

I've been looking in awe at the crowds down below on the streets of Tsim Sha Tsui, TST, the district here in Hong Kong, all walking up and down the harbor. They were there to just take a look at the incredible laser beam light show pyrotechnic display. These were scenes you would not see in the last couple of years in Hong Kong.

And it was only until a couple of days ago when we got rid of the remaining social distancing restrictions. Yes, a mask mandate remains in effect. If you come and visit Hong Kong, you got to wear your mask. But Hong Kong is open and Hong Kong is ready to welcome travelers and friends of Hong Kong to come back and visit.

And that is all adding up to this sense of renewal, of hope, of beliefs that it can become Asia's world city once again. It will be tough, needs to reclaim that title, but I believe Hong Kong can do it. And that's something to look forward to this year. Paula?

NEWTON: Absolutely, Kristie. And you -- I'm mesmerized by the pictures you were just showing of the crowds when you say that the social distancing rules really just let up now. I mean, look at those crowds. It must be, as you say, right, just so exhilarating to be out there again.

Kristie, I have to ask you, there has been quite the pivot in China, in mainland China there in terms of going from zero to basically no COVID restrictions, from what we can see, are very few. How is Hong Kong taking all that in right now?

LU STOUT: You know, I think Hong Kong, like many other areas around the world, looking the situation in mainland China with great concern about public health because concern, about people who are friends or family members and how they're dealing with a runaway outbreak there, but also as people do travel, leave China's borders. What does this mean for the rest of the world?


But at the moment tonight, it is a party spirit. People are thinking about a better tomorrow. They're looking forward to the economic opportunity that 2023 will bring, as well as, on a personal level, the opportunity to finally travel again. This pertains to mainlanders.

It pertains especially to people here in Hong Kong as well as the zero-COVID restrictions have been lifted, free to once again travel the world, to reunite with friends and families, to go back to favorite destinations the world over and all over the region as well, and to seek new sources of inspiration.

This is what is just getting people excited and enthused about what's next. This is not just any other New Year's Eve. This is one to remember. This is one that feels very, very different. It's very emotional to see, after years of not seeing them pyrotechnics in the night sky over Victoria Harbor.

It's very emotional to see tens of thousands, if not more people lining the streets in Hong Kong together, just wishing each other a happy New Year. Very emotional scenes, scene of happiness. Happy New Year, my friend.

NEWTON: Happy New Year to you. And we feel that emotion everywhere in Asia as they rang in 2023. You will be with us in just a few moments. For now, though, I'll let you take it all in. Thanks so much, Kristie. Really appreciate it.

Now we go to live pictures of the Vatican. We see where Pope Francis. You can see him there celebrating the New Year's Eve mass. Now, the first Vespers and Te Deum in Thanksgiving for the past year comes just hours after we, of course, learned of the passing of his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

And we want to bring in CNN's Delia Gallagher, who is in St. Peter's Square for us on this New Year's Eve. Delia, what a confluence of events, right? The pontiff at this point will likely try to embody all of our wishes, especially this year, for peace on earth in 2023. And yet this is Vatican City now in mourning for the Pope Emeritus.

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, in a certain sense, of course, in mourning, Paula. Although, if you keep in mind that this is a Christian and a Catholic place, the belief, of course, is that Pope Benedict will go to heaven. So, in a certain sense, there's a celebration of his life and his going to heaven.

And Pope Benedict, by the way, himself said many times, you know, he had plenty of occasion to talk about his own death, and he said he almost was looking forward to it. He thought it would be something heaven would be something like his childhood home, he said. He gave an interview, full length interview, in 2016, Paula, the book is called "The Last Testament."

So that was back in 2016, but he died in 2022 last day. And Pope Francis is currently in the Basilica, as you say, doing the vespers, which were already organized for New Year's Eve. He will afterwards, Paula, come out here to the Square to see the nativity scene. So people are kind of gathering for that purpose.

But, yes, certainly, a very poignant New Year's Eve for the Vatican and for Catholics around the world. Paula?

NEWTON: Yes, and I'm glad that you made that point in that distinction, right? At 95 years old, many are saying this is a celebration of life. I'm wondering, though, how the current pontiff, how the Pope is going to navigate this from what we all know was an incredibly troubling 2022 with challenges still to come in 2023.

GALLAGHER: Oh, well, absolutely. But, you know, if anyone's up to a challenge, it's Pope Francis. I have no doubt that he is, at this moment, very focused on Pope Benedict. You know, one thing people don't realize is they actually had a close relationship. They are very different people.

But Pope Francis had a lot of respect for Pope Benedict, as did a lot of progressives in the Catholic Church who liked to make this big distinction between conservatives and progressives. But remember that Pope Benedict was a sort of towering intellectual figure for the Catholic Church.

And whether you necessarily agreed with some of the things that he thought of or not, even cardinals who consider themselves more progressive had a great respect for him. And I think, in fact, that's why they elected him Pope after John Paul II. He was the only person who could fulfill -- fill those shoes. Paula?

NEWTON: Delia, 5:24 p.m. in the afternoon at Vatican City there, we will continue to check in with you. As you say, the Pope brings in 2023 as well, with the faithful there. Appreciate it.

Now, 2023 has well and truly begun in so many parts of the world. So far, we have celebrated and how in Sydney, as breathtaking fireworks lit up the iconic Sydney Harbor. In total, tonight's festivities are expected to amount to the largest New Year's party. Thank heaven, since the start of the pandemic.


And, of course, Hong Kong, which just rung in the New Year. And that is where we find our Kristie Lu Stout. Let the party continue. You are a one-woman party tonight, despite your backdrop there, Kristie. Take it away.

LU STOUT: You know, they're playing Beyonce right now, OK, I can't help it. And stunning scenes here in Hong Kong. Stunning scenes in Taiwan as people in Taipei turned out to bulk of the start of 2023. We're going to head back there next and we're going to go to Shanghai where the parties won't be stopping anytime soon. Plus --


LU STOUT: -- on the brink of superstardom, I interviewed with NCT 127. And what are your New Year resolutions? Well, we put that question to some of Pakistan's biggest stars. And here's a taste of what they hope to see in 2023.


MAHIRA KHAN, PAKISTANI ACTOR AND PRODUCER: My hope for the coming year is for the world to listen more and judge less. I would also like to see more Muslim representation in film, television, and I'd love to see women in positions of power.

SHAN MASOOD, PAKISTAN CRICKETERS: Hi. This is Shan Masood. And my hope for 2023 is that we all make the world a better place to live.

IMAM-UL-HAQ, PAKISTAN CRICKETERS: Hi, guys. This is Imam-ul-Haq. And my hope is that we should stay together, live together and support each other in hard times.



LU STOUT: Welcome back. It's almost half past midnight right now here in Hong Kong, and we've been ringing in the start of 2023 for the last 25 minutes or so with a dazzling fireworks and laser display over the Victoria Harbor.

Meanwhile, in Taipei, fireworks were shot off the top of Taiwan's tallest high rise to celebrate the New Year. And it doesn't stop there. We will continue to count down the New Year in each region around the world until everyone has celebrated everywhere. Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia are next up. They'll ring in the new year just under 30 minutes from now.

And as East Asia celebrates the New Year, let's head back straight to Selina Wang in Shanghai, Will Ripley in Taipei. Happy New Year, my friends. Selina, we'll start with you. How are revelers in Shanghai marking the moment?

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Happy New Year, Kristie. I mean, look, the lights on the bund may already be down, but the party is not over.


There's actually a party raging just next door in that building. We can't join them yet. People are marking this moment because it's significant, it's emotional. The turn of this year is different from any year before it. It's really ushering in a whole new world of freedom, of no restrictions. It's hard to believe, Kristie, that just weeks before, people were not gathering like this. In fact, many people, they were stuck in harsh lockdowns, in mass quarantine facilities, scanning our codes everywhere we went, going to a coffee shop or restaurant came with the threat of your code turning red or being sent to quarantine but now people feel free. Of course, there are still a lot of challenges ahead in 2023, but just for tonight people want to celebrate.

There is hope. There is optimism. I was at the Lantern Festival earlier today, and there were revelers from around the country, gathered in Shanghai to enjoy the gorgeous lanterns. And when I spoke to people, it's clear that people are not taking even the smallest things in life for granted, the ability to gather with friends, to see family. After three years of these harsh restrictions and lockdowns, finally people can reunite. They can go out, they can have fun. There's finally light at the end of the tunnel. There is hope that they've got their freedom back.

When I spoke to people, they're excited. If they're students, to be able to go back to campus, not have to do online courses anymore. For mothers, they are excited that their kids can go back to school. I spoke to young couples who are excited to finally be able to travel and leave the country, so there's a lot to be hopeful for for 2023.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR: A lot to be hopeful for. Partying in post zero COVID China and the scenes of the lantern festival there in Shanghai. Absolutely stunning. Selina Wang live in Shanghai. Thank you, Selina.

Let's go to Will Ripley standing by in Taipei. Will, you have been just next to one of the best spots in the world to ring in the New Year. Take us back to that moment, what was it like?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, it is -- there is no greater example of the soft power of this self-governing democracy than the Taipei 101 fireworks show, because it is a chance for more than a million people in person and millions more around the world to hear a message directly from the people of Taiwan. That message this year, one, that Taiwan has reopened after three years of pandemic isolation. There were so many people, just like Selina was describing in China, people here, people in Hong Kong who rang in the New Year last year in their homes, maybe alone, maybe with a family member, and that's it.

And a lot of people who came out here this evening just wanted to be out here with other people. To be out here, to breathe in the air, to feel the energy of a crowd, to see the excitement, to see the fireworks, and to feel that energy that you only get when the clock strikes midnight. And we all together say happy New Year and we hope for a happy new year.

Some years are happier than others. You think back to everything that the world has been through these last couple of years, everything that Taiwan has been through, everything that you've been through in Hong Kong, Kristie. But now there's a fresh, optimistic attitude out here and we certainly felt it at Taipei 101.

STOUT: Well said. It was like a massive release, a big party energy when we all felt it in Shanghai, in Taipei, here in Hong Kong. Selina Wang, Will Ripley, thank you so much and a happy New Year. Take care.

2023 promises to be a banner year for a South Korean boy band they're called 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 website Soompi. Now, with a repackaged album and a North and South American tour on the way, this band, NCT 127, finds itself on the brink of superstardom. And we recently sat down to talk about 2022 with them and what's ahead.


TAEYONG, NCT 124 LEADER: 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 10 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 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 (through translation): 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.

STOUT: You guys have so much heart, thank you so much, NCT 127, for hanging out with CNN. And Happy New Year to all of you.

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


STOUT: Asian talent making waves on the Billboard charts and Asian talent making waves on the big screen. "Joyland" hitting some theaters in Pakistan after a nationwide band is reversed, but 2023 may bring even more success for the film and its director, Saim Sadiq joins me next. Plus, it is the highest open air panoramic ride in Singapore, offering breathtaking views, and it's just one of the many attractions to visit as Asia lifts its travel restrictions. There is much more of New Year's Eve Live here on CNN. And New Year's Eve across the world ahead, we're going to take a quick break. Let's take another look at those spectacular celebrations here in East Asia.


STOUT: Welcome back. Now, Pakistan is counting down to the start of the New Year, and they're just over a couple of hours until festivities begin there, and we expect firework displays in Lahore. And the New Year could be a game changer for a Pakistani director and his new film, which is already generating a lot of buzz in the movie industry. "Joyland" tells the story of a man falling in love with a transgender dancer. It was banned by Pakistani authorities on grounds of objectionable material, but that ban was later reversed. Director Saim Sadiq joins us now live from Karachi.

Saim, it is so nice to meet you and happy New Year. Welcome to CNN.

SAIM SADIQ, PAKISTANI FILM DIRECTOR: Thank you. Happy New Year to you too. STOUT: Now, also congratulations are in order because your film is on the Oscar shortlist for Best International Feature Film. So, how does it feel to make history by becoming the first Pakistani film to make that list?

SADIQ: It feels great. I mean, it feels -- I shouldn't be taking all the credit for it because filmmaking is a very collaborative art. It takes a lot of technicians, a lot of cast, crew, producers who have to get together to make a film. But on behalf of everybody, I can say that we're particularly thrilled and proud. Yes, for sure.

STOUT: Yes. And how important is the story being told in your film "Joyland?"

SADIQ: I think every story, if it's told honestly, is important. And I think this one is no different. I think the difference with this film versus perhaps a lot of other Pakistani films that certain people may have seen is that, it's perhaps the most realistic depiction of what our society is like without a romantic depiction of anything.

It's not something that people are used to seeing on the big screen, which is a reflection of ourselves, which can be very heartening but can also be very uncomfortable to watch. So I think for me, particularly just seeing a film set in Pakistan about patriarchy and about gender roles and sort of the associating impact of those on human beings (inaudible).

STOUT: Absolutely. And Malala Yousafzai, she signed on as an executive producer of the film. What's it been like to work with and to collaborate with her?

SADIQ: It's really been so amazing. I think it's probably been the most star struck moment of my life to meet her because she's younger than me, but so much bigger than me and then I'll ever be. And when I met her, I think about three or four months ago for the first time, and she was just the most humble human being, so simple and so diligent about wanting to do right by the film. It was really a learning experience, I think, and it has been. She's really friendly and lovely, but so humble and so down to earth.

STOUT: This is such an exciting time for Pakistani activists, artists, musicians, filmmakers. And, Saim, you're at the forefront of all that. So what new offerings do you expect from the country in the next year, in 2023?

SADIQ: I think we should keep our expectations in check because one year is too little time. But every year on New Year's, we forget that it takes more than just one year to change things. But I think the past year has been really revolutionary for art and for culture in Pakistan, where so many artists, whether it's music or movies or television, have broken out and have claimed art space internationally and nationally as well. But 2023 for me is just an exciting time to see how those artists are joined by many more from Pakistan, because it's a country of I don't know, 250 million or so people, there's so much talent. And I'm just hoping that more and more of those talented people can get the opportunities to display that. So for me, it's just an exciting time to see what next -- what's the

next new big song or next new big movie that's going to come out of Pakistan now for the world and for Pakistanis as well.


STOUT: Certainly. In the short term, of course, congrats for all the Academy Award buzz surrounding "Joyland." We'll be sending good vibes when Oscars kick around. Saim Sadiq joining us live. Thank you so much. Happy New Year.

Now, if travel is on your to do list, it's online in this New Year, yes. Perhaps you want to go to Singapore. I got friends there. I want to go there. Singapore's SkyHelix is a great way to take in stunning scenery. And we recently spoke to a few adventurous writers who are brave enough to buckle up and head for the skies. Take a look.


STOUT (voice-over): Earlier this year, Singapore was among the first Asian countries to reopen and ease COVID-19 restrictions. The Lion City heralded the return of tourism with bustling hawker centers and new attractions. One of those is SkyHelix Sentosa. Opened in December 2021, it is the highest open air panoramic ride in the Southeast Asian city state.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's amazing, man. Like you just caught a really beautiful concept. So yes, I highly recommend it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To enjoy Singapore, you should really try it.

STOUT (voice-over): At 79 meters above sea level and 35 meters in the ground, the vertical ride offers sweeping views of Singapore's central business district, outlying islands and natural beauty.

RUHEE, RODE SKYHELIX SENTOSA: Yes. I would definitely tell people to go during the sunset, so the view looks quite spectacular because the sun is just above the sea and you can see the reflection of the sun.

STOUT (voice-over): The ride lasts for around twelve minutes and costs around $13.

ZARIFAH NUR AISHAH BENTI AB RAZAK, SENIOR ATTRACTION HOST, SKYHELIX: I believe that for some people, they might feel adrenaline.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. It was a great, relaxing way to get a good view of Singapore.


STOUT: You're watching CNN's New Year's Eve Live. New Year, old favorites by the work of a true master never goes out of style. We visit the exhibit celebrating the incomparable work of Japan's Yayoi Kusama. And Pakistan's Academy Award winning director Sharmeen Chinoy shares her hopes for 2023.


SHARMEEN CHINOY, PAKISTAN FILM DIRECTOR: My hopes for next year are that women around the world will come together in a singular voice to say that they want greater agency over their bodies, a right to an education, a life free of violence. And that this coming together will move the needle on these critical issues for every woman around the world.




TOSIN OSHINOWO, NIGERIAN ARCHITECT: My hopes and dreams are to be able to continue to showcase the importance the continent plays within the creative industry globally. As we continue to progress, I want to be part of that process, that renaissance that shares with a global audience and with ourselves the value that we have.


STOUT: Welcome back and happy New Year from the team here at CNN Hong Kong. The city rang in the New Year in the past hour with a stunning display of fireworks and people will be partying long into the night. There were celebrations this hour in Taipei as well, as well as Singapore and across Mainland China. And earlier, Sydney was among the first for the world's major cities to welcome 2023 with a breathtaking display over the city's iconic harbor.


Now to someone who is truly timeless now. She is one of the biggest names in art around the world Yayoi Kusama, whose stunning installations have captivated generations of our art lovers for decades. At 93, her popularity shows no sign of waning, as found out recently at a blockbuster retrospective of her work right here in Hong Kong.


STOUT (voice-over): An explosion of colors, countless patterns and dots, more dots, a constellation of dots. These are the works of Japan's Yayoi Kusama, arguably the world's most famous living female artist. For seven decades, she has been prolifically, creating across multiple mediums, from her instantly recognizable pumpkins paintings that can command millions at auction to immersive infinity mirror room installations, tickets to which consistently sell out at museums the world over.

Here at M+ Museum in Hong Kong, more than 200 of her artworks have been brought together for the largest retrospective of her work in Asia outside Japan.

There are early pieces like this drawing created by Kusama at age 16 and works completed just this year. This large scale installation commissioned by the museum, a Technicolor reimagining of her 1976 work, "Death of a Nerve." Arranged chronologically and thematically, the show offers insight into ideas that the artist has consistently explored, including notions of infinity spurred on by childhood hallucinations.

DORYUN CHONG, CO-CURATOR, "YAYOI KUSAMA: 1945 TO NOW": Remarkable thing about Kusama's career is that this breakthrough ideas are revisited and reinterpreted again and again. These forms continue to evolve because all of them come from a very firm foundation of these deep thoughts really, about humanity and its connection to nature in the universe, but also the idea about life and death as complementarities with each other.

STOUT (voice-over): At 93, Kusama is still working nowadays from her room in a psychiatric hospital where she has voluntarily lived in since the late 1970s.

MIKA YOSHITAKE, CO-CURATOR, "YAYOI KUSAMA: 1945 TO NOW": She has to paint every day. It's a source of therapy and healing for her. Art is a form of survival for her, and the more vivid and the more that she makes, it makes her stronger.

STOUT (voice-over): Her work has dark undercurrents, reflecting her battles with mental illness, but there is also joy and a profound desire for connection. I am going to continue creating a world in awe of life, she told CNN in a short email interview, adding that she wanted to embrace all the messages of love, peace and universe. In the era of social media, Kusama's art has found even wider audiences.

(on camera): For many visitors, one of the highlights is this immersive space. Kusama's signature dots are everywhere, and the mirrors installed give this hypnotic illusion of endless space.

(voice-over): A global museum for visual culture, M+ has long been seen as Asia's answer to London's Tate Modern or New York's MOMA. When it finally opened in late 2021, after a decade in the making, it faced a number of challenges, a changed political environment which continues to raise censorship concerns across various sectors, including art, and Hong Kong's tough pandemic rules that barred most tourists from coming into the city and shuttered the museum for three months.

But there have been some silver linings. M+ has already counted over 2 million visitors, nearly all Hong Kong residents.

CHONG: For a global museum to open and be embraced by our local audiences first and foremost in its first year couldn't be a better way to start the museum.

STOUT (voice-over): Now, with eased restrictions, M+ curators hope that in the New Year, more international visitors will pour through its doors to see its vast collection and experience the Kusama exhibition in person, which runs through May.

(on camera): What do you hope visitors will walk away with after experiencing this exhibition? CHONG: That Kusama is so much more than pumpkin sculptures and polka

dot patterns, that she is a thinker of deep philosophy, a groundbreaking figure who has really revealed so much about herself, her vulnerability, her struggles as the source of inspiration for her art.

STOUT (voice-over): A means of healing and connection, living proof that art is therapy.



STOUT: It is a blockbuster show at a blockbuster museum here in Hong Kong where it's already 2023. Let's check in again with Will Ripley in Taipei, where it's already 2023. And, Will, the Taipei 101 launched an incredible, dazzling fireworks show there.

RIPLEY: You could see the fireworks even though there were very thick clouds. It was raining out here. People had their umbrellas and their ponchos, but it was still electric. It was quite a fitting way to ring in 2023. Taiwan has officially reopened after the pandemic, and they wanted the world to see them standing tall and standing strong, much like this island itself.

Taipei 101 is the icon of this Taiwanese capital city. At one point when it opened almost 20 years ago, it was the world's tallest building. It's still one of the world's tallest towers, and the fireworks lasted for a full five minutes. We got to see and smell the smoke from the celebrations, and now there's a handful of people still out here, Kristie. Most people have moved on, whether they're going home to go to bed, whether they're heading out to party, but we get to continue the party, I understand, because we're still minutes away from what's going to happen in Bangkok.

STOUT: Oh, absolutely. The party is continuing. You've got to stick around. We're going to stick around our audiences as well. Will Ripley chatta for now, we'll talk again soon.

As Will said coming up, we're going to be live in Bangkok where they are knocking on New Year's door just minutes away now. I'm Kristie Lu Stout. You're watching New Year's Eve Live on CNN. And the global countdown to 2023 continues after this short break. Keep it here.


STOUT: You're watching CNN's New Year's Eve Live. Welcome back. And we are just moments away from 2023 in Bangkok, Thailand. A fantastic fireworks show is about to begin there. Welcome back again to CNN's special coverage of New Year's Live. I'm Kristie Lu Stout.

And all day long, CNN is taking you around the world as you celebrate 2023 with you in style until everyone everywhere brings in the New Year. And we continue to celebrate in Asia and we'll party with you all night, including the big ball drop in New York. Now, Bangkok is often at the top of any list of Asia's best nightlife cities. This is where you want to be to ring in the New Year. You got the music, bright lights, revelry, celebration. And if there's truly one night in Bangkok, you don't want to miss, it the one that's happening tonight. Now, CNN's Will Ripley has, like me, spent some time in Bangkok. He knows it well. Let's bring him back again.

Will, good to see you. I know you're in Taipei. We're talking about Bangkok now because it's their moment right now. They're known for its nightlife. That includes tonight. How is the city ushering in 2023?

RIPLEY: Kristie, when you said, oh, Will Ripley spent a lot of time in Bangkok, my first thought was, what do and what's your bribe amount? I've had work trips and I've had fun trips in Bangkok. And it's always a great time. It's a great time no matter why you're there. I was just there recently.

And, you know, even though their tourist numbers are down from what they were -- Eric is laughing at me here. Yes, he knows what I'm talking about. Eric, our producer here. Anyway moving -- changing subject. Happy New Year, everybody.

Now, if you're in Bangkok right now, yes, the number of tourists is down from what it was pre-pandemic. But still, I thought it felt remarkably normal. From the entrance at the airport to walking around, and the streets are crowded, the businesses are open. And yes, they'd like to see more visitors, and they're hoping that 2023 will bring more visitors.

I don't know if we have the live signal that gremlins have been hitting our technical system all night long, but I can tell you that if you are along the riverfront tonight, whether you're at River Park or whether you're on a river cruise, you're seeing a spectacular fireworks show. Bangkok truly is one of Asia's favorite destinations to ring in the New Year, and I'd love for us to be able to show it to you, but instead, they're going to show both of us, Kristie. So I'll tell you, I've had a lot of fun in Bangkok, and I'm sure you have too.

STOUT: I have indeed. I celebrated my 30th birthday there back in the day. It's a great destination. And when you go, there are so many places to visit and to see the fireworks, and we're trying to bring that life beat for you right now, there are so many vantage points in the city to just see the illuminated skies above Bangkok. It really is a case of take your pick.

RIPLEY: Yes. You know, the movie "The Hangover," they actually shot one of the most famous scenes at this rooftop called Sky Bar. So, again, as we talk about nights in Bangkok, that's one way to have a night in Bangkok. But there are also incredibly beautiful and historic temples. There are places where you can sit, and you can meditate, and you can watch the sunrise in silence, or you can see the sun rising as you're walking home from a nightclub.

I mean, Bangkok literally is one of those cities that offers a path for everyone. No matter why you're there, no matter how you want to celebrate, you can do it there. And so, that's why we're just going to continue to tell you all about it. Unfortunately, we can't show it to you right now because our signal isn't working.

But I can tell you that here in Taiwan, we saw fabulous fireworks here at Taipei 101 tonight, and it was truly just spectacular. Five minutes at an altitude of more than 1500 feet, nearly 500 meters above the Taiwanese capital, they had a show that went on and went on. And now to my right, I see a small army of street sweepers cleaning up the central Taipei. It's really extraordinary how quickly the crowds move out and they get this place tidied up, despite the fact that more than a million people were expected out here, despite the fact that we've had some inclement weather.

We've had some rainstorms. It was a gorgeous site there in Hong Kong where you were as well, Kristie. First time in several years that you were able to see fireworks like that in Hong Kong, it must have been just incredible and almost emotional to feel somewhat back to normal finally, after all that the world has been through these last few years.

STOUT: Absolutely, Will. That is a theme that we're sensing as each major Asian city brings in a New Year. Whether it's Taipei where you are, Hong Kong where I am, where it's happening right now in Bangkok, when you see fireworks light up the sky, as you see live on your screen from Bangkok, it is an emotional moment.

A number of people are able to travel into Thailand to see this as guests of the kingdom, as well as the people who call Thailand home. And there are so many different areas from which you could see this spectacular site in Bangkok, whether it's from the banks of the iconic Chao Phraya River or from one of the many skyscrapers there.

You mentioned one of these sky bars that are available there. From there, imagine seeing these sites up in the skies above Bangkok. I was there a couple of years ago to go to the King Power Mahanakhon, which has quite famously, one of these clear platforms that are multiple, multiple stories. If you have vertigo, you don't want to be there. But if you want to take in the pyrotechnics tonight in Bangkok, you want to be there. Will?

RIPLEY: Now, can you do those clear platform things, Kristie? Like do you get -- I mean, if I stand one of those and I'm looking down, I literally start to feel queasy in my stomach. Like it's very, very difficult for me to step out one of those things. I know that they say it's very secure. They have bridges that are like that. I've never walked across one. Heights get me a little bit.

I have to give kudos to my team, Eric, Tony and John Ace (ph), because while I was in Ukraine, they were up on top of the rooftop of Taipei 101 shooting our story about the fireworks. And they literally had to strap in using these belts that you're, like, dangling off the side. I mean, this is not for the weak hearted to get up there. Now, that said, I'm going to take it as a challenge and try to get up there at some point as well, because maybe 2023 will be all about facing our fears, about overcoming obstacles in life.

2022 had a lot of them, for sure. No matter where you were in the world, it wasn't always the easiest of years, but we are now in a fresh, brand new year. It's a chance for a fresh new start. And certainly that rings true here in Asia, a part of the world that has basically lived in the pandemic longer than a lot of other places have, Kristie.

STOUT: You're listing these fantastic New Year's resolutions for 2023, Will, facing your fears, conquering those fears. And also for me, one of my New Year's resolutions is just to get out there and explore, especially with zero COVID restrictions now virtually gone from China and from Hong Kong. And that also opens up the door of opportunity to go to a place like Bangkok.

We're looking live on our screens the big New Year's Eve celebrations there in Thailand. Bangkok has just ushered in a brand new year. It's 2023 there as well, and an opportunity to just remind everyone in the world, this is your chance to come back to Thailand.

And, Will, I can't wait to get back there. The charm, the culture, the people, the cuisine, what are your Bangkok highlights?

RIPLEY: Yes. Oh, my god. Are we talking about Bangkok or Taiwan? Because if we're talking about Taiwan, I'm going to mention again the fried pork and the fried chicken at the street food stand. It was right down there. They're still open. I bet there's still a line. It was delicious.

Of course, Bangkok, there's tons of amazing food. I actually highly recommend I don't know if you've done this, Kristie, taking street food tour in Thailand. Either do it in Chiang Mai or do it in Bangkok.


RIPLEY: It is going to be the most fun several hours, fun and fattening several hours that you will experience because you get to try the classics, pad Thai, everything like that. But then you get to try stuff that you never even knew you liked, and then you take a bite, and it's absolutely fabulous.

So take a street food tour. I think street food is probably one of the most fun ways to experience any country, whether it's the night market here in Taiwan, where people go and hang out late at night at the night market. You can get vegan food at the night market here if you're vegan, because there's a lot of Taiwanese vegans and so they have, like, fabulous selection of street food that's vegan.

And then, you can also get plenty of meat if that's what you like as well. It just really -- I think if you're traveling in the New Year, make sure that you don't just go to stick at the tourist spot. Get out there to the markets, hang out where locals hang out. You're going to have an authentic experience. That's what it felt like out here at Taipei 101 as well.

This is where so many people like to come to celebrate New Year and to get ready then for the Lunar New Year that they'll spend with their families out here. It's party time and the parties are happening all around us here in Central Taipei. Kristie, I can hear them. I can hear the bass from many different nightclubs as we stand here. Pretty much it's emptied out here at Taipei City Plaza. So once we get off the air, we'll just have to walk around and explore a bit.

STOUT: I'm sensing a theme, Will, because you're talking about food. I know we've been on air for a few hours now. You can smell the street food in the air. You're getting a little bit hungry, me too. And as we're looking at these beautiful images coming in live from Bangkok, you're seeing these stunning pyrotechnic displays, light shows being displayed above the skyline of Bangkok. I'm getting really hungry for an opportunity to go back there to travel.

You mentioned the cuisine, and one way of exploring Thai cuisine is through street food, which is such a brilliant idea. I would love to go to Bangkok to do the shopping, of course, the spas, and also just to meet up with the people there, some of the most beautiful, friendly people in the world. And look back to the shopping. I actually love the retail experience in Bangkok, you know, the massive shopping centers almost like a spaceships that have landed.

RIPLEY: And don't forget (inaudible).

STOUT: Yes, absolutely. See, now I'm getting hungry for street food in Taiwan and a Thai massage at the same time as we ushered a New Year with Taipei, Bangkok, all these other great Asian cities. Wow. Oh, my gosh. This is just fantastic.