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CONNECT THE WORLD

Tensions in Korea; Pakistan President Agrees to Pardon Pakistani Woman Sentenced for Blasphemy; Mine Rescue; William and Kate Set a Date. In Age of Internet, Viewership of Royal Wedding Could Top Charles' and Diana's. Replicas of Royal Engagement Ring Selling Well in New York. Diana's Dress Designer Speculates on Kate's Dress. The Intelligence of Lemurs. Connector of the Day Genevieve Nnaji. Viewers Respond to North Korea's Attack on South Korea. Parting Shots of Relics That Have Become Treasures.

Aired November 23, 2010 - 16:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ZANE VERJEE, HOST: South Korea's president calls for enormous retaliation after a deadly artillery strike from North Korea. The North's best and only friend, China, says it's taken note and that's all.

But the South's allies are more blunt. From Japan, Russia and the United States, anger.

Going beyond borders on the day's biggest stories, on CNN, this is the hour we connect the world.

From nuclear muscle flexing to hostility on the seas, North Korea is used to being provocative, but its latest attack on South Korea is being seen by many as an act of war.

I'm Zane Verjee in London with that story and how the rest of the world is getting involved.

Also tonight, a CONNECT THE WORLD exclusive. We have been following the case of a Christian woman condemned to death in Pakistan. We'll bring you the news from the very top that would make her supporters sigh with relief.

Our week long focus on intelligent animals makes a furry friend -- they're risk adverse, smart and very good at math.

And she has been dubbed the Julia Roberts of Africa by her millions of fans. Genevieve Nnaji is taking your questions tonight as the Connector of the Day.

That's CNN in the next 60 minutes.

And if you want to get involved in the show, you know, we really like it. Just go to CNN.com/connect.

We begin with one of the worst clashes between the Koreas in decades. South Korea has ordered its military on highest alert after what it calls intolerable attacks on civilian areas. The two sides exchanged fire for almost an hour after the North shelled a South Korean island, killing two marines.

Look at the map. The attack happened near the Northern Limit Line. That's a maritime border that North Korea does not recognize.

As Stan Grant reports, some island residents fled to the mainland to - - to escape.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STAN GRANT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm walking alone here now with one of the people who have been evacuated from the island. As you can see, it is an elderly lady. Many of the people who have fled the island are older people. And they've been describing what they went through, most of them saying that they are shocked and they are saddened. Some have had to leave all of their possessions behind.

"I'm not dead," she says. "I'm not hurt and I've come back alive."

This is what confronted Koyh Yungher (ph), the 86-year-old seeing her home on Yeonpyeong Island under attack. Closed circuit television captured shells raining down.

"I was on my own, all alone. A kind neighbor came and helped me get to the port. I didn't even get to say bye to him."

Buildings were on fire, smoke billowing into the air. North Korea launching the attack it says retailing to South Korean military exercises.

South Korea responding -- F-16 fighter jets scrambling to the area, returning fire.

In Seoul, President Lee Myung-bak calling key officials to an emergency meeting, calling for calm, but leaving Pyongyang in no doubt the South will hit back: "The army, navy and air force," he says, "should unite and retaliate against this provocation with multiple firepower. I think enormous retaliation is necessary to make North Korea incapable of provoking us again."

Into the night, boats ferried more people to Inchon Port. Dazed and in shock, still trying to take stock of what happened.

"I heard a boom sound and then a large bang. All the windows shattered and we ran to the bunkers. That's when I saw the smoke and fire."

Targeting civilians raises the deadly stakes here. There have been flashpoints before, but this was an attack on South Korean soil.

(on camera): North Korea is ratcheting up the rhetoric, calling the South Korean government "a puppet group," saying that South Korea is carrying out war exercises and warning that North Korea will respond with merciless military confrontation. A region already volatile is now on a knife edge.

Stan Grant, CNN, Inchon, South Korea.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

VERJEE: Nobody wants to see this conflict escalate, stability in the region is so crucial to the global economy. So many countries really have reason to worry.

Jaime Florcruz has reaction now from China, North Korea's only major ally.

JAIME FLORCRUZ, BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF: China is a close neighbor of North and South Korea. So it is in China's national interests to help all sides ensure that the current tension does not escalate into a war.

In a regular press briefing, the foreign ministry spokesman called for calm and restraint.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HONG LEI, CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN (through translator): We have taken note of relevant reports and we express concern for this situation. This situation will be verified. We hope that the relevant parties will contribute their share to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FLORCRUZ: China remains North Korea's closest political ally and its main supplier of food, energy and military aid -- things that North Korea badly needs. China says the fundamental way to resolve the crisis is through dialogue and negotiations. In fact, China has hosted several rounds of the so-called six party talks aimed at getting North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program in exchange for economic aid and a security guarantee from the United States.

The talks have been stalled for three years now, but China says that is the only workable way.

VERJEE: Jaime Florcruz there, reporting from Beijing.

Now, let's get some reaction from some of the other countries that are part of those on again, off again talks with North Korea.

Japan calls Pyongyang's attack "unpardonable." It says the provocation compromises the peace and security not only of South Korea, but also the entire region.

Russia also condemned the artillery shelling, saying: "We are insistently urging immediate measures to alleviate tensions and avoidance of such conduct in the future."

The U.S., meantime, used the word "outrage." A White House spokesman says the country stands shoulder to shoulder with South Korea and is fully committed to its defense.

And the U.S. State Department said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK TONER, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: I think that everybody involved is -- is stunned by the -- by North Korea's provocative actions. I believe the president referred to it as outrageous and that we are working, again, within an established framework, with our partners, so that we have a deliberate approach to this. We're not going to respond willy-nilly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERJEE: OK, so as you can see, North Korea doesn't really have any friends in this fight.

What does it expect to gain?

We're joined now by two guests.

Nicole Finnemann joins me now.

She's the director at the Korea Economic Institute and she recently traveled to North Korea.

Gordon Chang is one of our regular panelists here on CONNECT THE WORLD.

Great to have both of you.

Nicole, was this a declaration of war?

NICOLE FINNEMANN, DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH & ACADEMIC AFFAIRS, KOREA ECONOMIC INSTITUTE: Oh, what a question.

Well, it's certainly a -- it is another superlative. We had the biggest attack anyone in -- anyone has seen in March of this year on South Korea by the North and then today again, we are hearing superlatives.

This is a biggest act now, if it were an act -- to make it an act of war, it will depend on -- on South Korea's reaction, I think.

VERJEE: What do you think, Gordon?

GORDON CHANG, CONNECT THE WORLD PANELIST: It certainly is an act of war. They were killing South Koreans. I think, you know, the North Koreans have abrogated the armistice. They've said this a number of times, most recently about a year ago. We should take the hint. There is a state of war. We're just ignoring what's going on. And that's why North Korea is continuing with these belligerent and provocative acts.

VERJEE: Nicole, why did they do it?

FINNEMANN: Well, I -- I have to jump in here. I agree this is the most provocative and absolutely belligerent. But I -- the North Koreans genuinely know how to play other countries, international and domestic politics to their advantage. And they see turmoil. They see the Lee Myung-bak administration in South Korea wavering, possibly even walking back from demanding recognition of guilt on the Tonalin (ph) incident.

When I was just there, the North Koreans knew every intricate detail of our own U.S. domestic politics and -- and I believe they're trying to pull the strings for their own negotiating favor (ph).

VERJEE: And a lot of analysts have said, you know, this isn't new with North Korea, this is a pattern. They play the brinksmanship game so well.

But, Gordon, what is it they want?

CHANG: We don't know, really, what they want. I mean I think that, basically, yes, of course they want some aid. But I think believe -- that Kim Jong-Il, the leader of North Korea, wants to show an accomplishment, but he needs to have some sort of success in order to have his 27-year-old son succeed him.

And that means the military in North Korea is becoming even more powerful, as Kim Jong-Il cedes authority.

So I think this has a lot to do with the domestic situation in Pyongyang. And that means this is going to continue to get worse, because the succession still remains murky and unclear.

VERJEE: Do you agree with that, Nicole?

CHANG: Absolutely. I do think things are going to get worse with the recent developments that -- that I've seen. And we learned over the weekend about North Korea's nuclear program. I fully expect missile and/or nuclear tests in the near future to continue on this theme.

VERJEE: Continuing on that them, you've got the South Korean president today talking about enormous retaliation.

Do you think that -- that this is really serious and they could follow through or it -- it's a threat and the international community may pull them back to the U.N. or to six party talks?

What do you think, Gordon?

CHANG: We heard rhetoric like this after the sinking of the Cheonan and March. And so I -- I believe that the North Koreans view Lee Myung- bak's words today as just more of the same, they don't really mean anything. And because they don't believe that South Korea or the United States, for that matter, is going to impose any sort of consequences, this is going to be not the last in a series of belligerent and hostile acts.

So I'm very concerned that we're not backing up our words with meaningful sanctions.

VERJEE: The other concern a lot of people have, Nicole, and I think Bill Clinton calls it the DMZ -- one of the most dangerous places in the world. You've got both those militaries, the North and the South, armed to the teeth. And anything could trigger and unravel in a situation that nobody wants to see, right?

FINNEMANN: Absolutely. You cut down the wrong tree and shots will be fired on the DMZ. And on the -- along the northern side of the DMZ, this is one of the areas where the propaganda and the education and the fear/rivalry has to be the strongest in the North. So it's absolutely where things are the most tense.

VERJEE: Gordon, how is this going to end?

I mean do -- do we rely on China to -- to rein them in, the big brother, the patron, that kind of seems a little bit out of the loop here?

What do you think is going to happen?

CHANG: Well, I don't see China as being constructive. China is North Korea's primary backer. After the sinking of the Cheonan, China's response was extremely disappointing to those who thought that Beijing could play a constructive role.

And so I -- I see this situation deteriorating and anything can happen. And that's really the problem. You know, you talked about stability in the North Asia region. We just don't have that much of it right now.

VERJEE: Nicole, a final word?

FINNEMANN: I'm going to have -- yes, I -- I would have to echo on that. China is absolutely petrified, as are a lot of people, about the stability of the leadership transition in North Korea. And North Korea knows that. It is playing that off China. And it is testing and proving that it can pull things off like it did in March with South Korea and have no great punishment as a result. So they can try today, as well.

VERJEE: Nicole Finnemann, Gordon Chang, thanks so much for your insights.

Appreciate it, guys.

Thank you.

Well, you've heard from the experts, so let's hear now a little bit about what some of the average people who are affected by this story have to say.

Two CONNECT THE WORLD viewers from Seoul sent us these messages.

Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Koreans and foreigners here alike, we live with the sort of random acts of aggression that North Korea, you know, every six months or so, commits. So basically, it's a real stiff upper lip kind of culture, I would say, or just attitude toward North Korea. Everyone just knows what's going on and they treat them like sort of a -- sort of a renegade brother, really.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I heard the news, I was, you know, (AUDIO GAP) and I met my client. And she just said to me, did you just hear, there is a war now?

So I was like, what?

And I checked my Twitter and that they all texted. They just all said with the bombs in the Yeonpyeong Island. So I was really freaked out and so scared. And I asked my friends and they're all OK. And many people said it's not a big deal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERJEE: There's an interesting footnote to this whole story. While their government was saber rattling and making threats, athletes from the Koreas were actually sharing a stage and they were shocking hands.

Take a look at this picture. It's from the Asian Games in China. It shows the medal winners in women's individual archery. Gold went to South Korea. China took sliver. And North Korea won the bronze.

At a news conference, both the Koran athletes were asked about their country's military clash. The North Korean, Kwan Unsil (ph) said she didn't pay any attention to it. South Korean Unialki (ph) says the Koreans have always been on good terms, at least on the archery field.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.

Up next on the show, assurances over the life of a Pakistani woman sentenced to death for blasphemy. Why execution is now looking pretty unlikely.

And then, they've got a date and the place -- the wedding of 2011 is starting to take shape.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VERJEE: Her story has thousands of you locked in debate on our Web site. And tonight we want to tell you about a breakthrough in the case of Asia Bibi.

Last week, we told you how the mother of five had been sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan. She was jailed after getting into a pretty heated argument with a group of Muslim co-workers. They claim that she insulted the Prophet Mohammed.

A court agreed. But on Saturday, Asia dismissed their claims as lies fabricated by women who just didn't like her.

Her death sentence has sparked protests in Pakistan and even the pope has called for her release.

Now, CONNECT THE WORLD has learned that Pakistan's president has agreed to pardon Asia Bibi if her appeal in the high court fails.

Speaking to me a little bit earlier on the phone from Lahore, the governor of Punjab Province in Pakistan says that he passed on a petition to President Asif Ali Zardari and got assurances that she would not be put to death.

SALMAAN TASEER, GOVERNOR, PAKISTAN'S PUNJAB PROVINCE: Well, President Zardari has made it clear that she will not be punished. Now, by asking me to take a multi-petition to him, he has the rights under Section 25 of the constitution to pardon anybody. So he's keeping it with him. And what basically he's made it clear is that she is not going to be a victim of this -- of this law.

VERJEE: What do you want?

Do you want him to pardon her?

TASEER: We're going to wait for a few days. Her petition is being filed in the high court. And it's the high court -- that is what the high court should do, which is suspend the sentence and release her. If they do that, fine. If they don't, then we'll pardon her.

VERJEE: When?

TASEER: We are talking about a week or so. Not longer.

VERJEE: You had told "The New York Times" in an earlier interview, maybe one to two days.

Do you still see that time line?

TASEER: No, we -- we -- we took that time forward because we just thought that it -- let -- let it -- let the matter settle because, you know, it's caused -- it causes a lot of excitement.

VERJEE: How hard are you personally pushing President Zardari on this, to pardon her?

TASEER: No, I don't have to push him. I mean I -- I called him up and spoke to him and he said absolutely, done. I mean he's a liberal modern-minded president. And he's not, you know, going to see a poor woman like this targeted and executed or even -- even, you know, it's not -- it's just not -- it's not going to happen.

VERJEE: Right.

TASEER: I'm not doing it because (INAUDIBLE) government isn't going to happen.

VERJEE: So, it's going to happen. The president will step in, more than likely, it's only a question of when, is that how you see it?

TASEER: I absolutely see it. But if the high court suspends the sentence and gives her bail, then that is fine. We'll -- we'll see that. And if that doesn't happen, then the president will pardon her.

VERJEE: Governor Salmaan, how do you see the blasphemy law in Pakistan?

Many rights groups have said that it's because of the blasphemy law that triggers extremism in some parts of Pakistan.

Do you think it should be repealed?

TASEER: Look, the blasphemy law is not a -- is not a God-made law. You know, it -- it's a -- it's a manmade law. It was made by General Zia- ul Haq. And the -- and the portion about giving a death sentence was put in by Nawaz Sharif. So it's a -- it's a law which gives an excuse to extremists and reactionaries to target weak people and minorities. I mean no big, rich, powerful man has gone in under the blasphemy law. It's only poor people who they want to, you know, either grab their property or threaten them or get into local disputes.

So the blasphemy law is actually an unfortunate leftover from a military regime and it has to go. And in due course it will be amended. And I think the -- the pressure is on us, is on the parliamentarians now. People have spoken up, I'm very happy to say. I -- I took the initiative and I think, from all sides, from all civil society, from all democratic areas, people are coming out and openly condemning the -- the blasphemy law. I think that that's encouraging.

VERJEE: So you should -- you think it should be thrown out or changed then?

TASEER: Well, changed in such a way that it just basically says that if you insult any prophet, no matter who he is, that that is a criminal offense. But certainly not punishable by death.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

VERJEE: Salmaan Taseer, the governor of Punjab Province in Pakistan.

So is it time to just change Pakistan's blasphemy law?

Earlier, I put that to the country's minorities minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, who spoke to me on the phone from Islamabad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHAHBAZ BHATTI, PAKISTANI MINORITIES MINISTER: The blasphemy law is a tool of victimization. Blasphemy is -- is routinely misused to victimize the minorities and innocent people of Pakistan. And during this use of blasphemy law, is it a question whether this law needs to be remain or needs to be abolished.

So to discuss this, we are holding a consultation meeting of the different stakeholders.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERJEE: Once again, you've been heading to our Web site to give us your reaction to this story.

One reader writes: "As a Muslim, I find it stupid and ridiculous that this poor woman had to go through this from the beginning. Thank you, President Asif Ali Zardari for taking care of this."

Shawn44 claims: "The fact this barbaric law from the Dark Ages exists to begin with should shame every Pakistani for living under it."

JennyTX says: "Thank you, President Asif Ali Zardari. Common sense prevails."

Pozzocatone agrees: "That's what you call a president for all Pakistanis. She may be Christian, but she's first and foremost a Pakistani citizen and the president has taken the right decision to protect his nationals."

But Mwilder believes: "The only reason why this woman may be pardoned is because the whole world was watching."

To join in the debate, just head to our Web site at CNN.com/connect.

You are watching CONNECT THE WORLD.

Next up, an explosive fight -- the moment a blast just tore through a New Zealand mine. Why officials decided to show families this sobering vision.

And what's this little fellow up to?

Would you believe that he's actually counting?

He's not just cute, not just good looking, but lemurs are showing their smarts, too. We'll tell you that story.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VERJEE: They dig for our comfort all around the world and this year, more than any other, we have seen the human face and the cost of the mining industry -- and in recent days, more trapped men in need of rescue.

In New Zealand, the message is brace for the worst. At the Pike River Mine on the country's South Island, the days are stretching on and still no word from the 29 men who were working underground when a blast just tore through the mine on Friday afternoon.

This is the moment the explosion happened. Take a look at the this picture. It's actually video of the mine entrance, which is at least two- and-a-half kilometers from the blast site. Officials have described the minute long CCTV vision as "sobering." They say it shows the explosion must have been large and sustained to have spewed so much dust and debris from such a distance.

The picture was released to show the dangerous of going back into the mine. Rescuers are being forced to use robots to search for signs of life. And that's growing slimmer by the hour.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GARY KNOWLES, TASMAN POLICE DISTRICT COMMANDER: We still remain optimistic. We're still keeping an open mind. But we are planning for all outcomes and that's also part of this process. We're planning for the possible loss of life, as a result of what's occurred underground.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERJEE: As the wait continues in New Zealand, there has been relief in China's Sichuan Province. Another 29 men were trapped underground on Sunday, when the Batian Coal Mine was flooded. But rescuers there were able to reach the miners relatively quickly, bringing them all to safety, to the surface, in 30 hours.

And celebrations are still going on for the 33 Chilean miners who were rescued from the San Jose Mine after 69 days. Almost seven weeks on, the men have been enjoying, well, pretty much a celebrity status. During a trip to the U.S., one of the miners told CNN's Anderson Cooper what it was like the very moment the rescue drill finally pierced their chamber.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "A.C. 360")

MARIO SEPULVEDA ESPINACE, CHILEAN MINER (through translator): It was exciting, very exciting -- hope, life, the desire to continue living. It was beautiful, like a party. It was outrageous. It was like a carnival. It was as if Chile had played Argentina in a soccer match and Chile won.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VERJEE: That really does capture it, doesn't it?

Coming up next, save the date, OK, and do it now -- Britain's Prince William and his fiance have finally announced when and where they will tie the knot. We'll tell you the history and the significance of their choice.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VERJEE: Hi.

You're back with CONNECT THE WORLD.

I'm Zane Verjee in London.

Coming up, the date is set, the place is set, now the countdown is on, as the U.K. gets ready for a royal wedding.

The eyes of a lemur -- they reveal a curiosity that may show an intelligence far beyond what anyone thought.

And she's a heroine in Africa. Now, our Connector of the Day, Gonaives Naji, is setting her sights on an even bigger stage.

All those stories just ahead in the show for you.

But first, a check of the headlines.

South Korea's president is calling for enormous retaliation after his country's troops were attacked by the North along their disputed sea border. Diplomats are condemning the violence and urging restraint. The North accuses the South of provoking the violence through maritime military drills.

Pakistani officials say President Asif Ali Zardari is expected to pardon a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy. Asia Bibi was accused of insulting the prophet Mohammed, a charge she denies.

Bleak and gray, that's how one official describes the situation at a New Zealand coal mine where 29 miners have been missing since an explosion Friday. Officials say there's a real risk of a second blast.

Belgian authorities say 11 people have been arrested for allegedly plotting a terrorist strike. A counter-terrorism official tells CNN the group discussed targeting Jews and NATO vehicles. Seven arrests were in Belgium, the rest in Germany and the Netherlands.

The countdown begins. Britain's royal family announced that Prince William and Kate Middleton will marry on April the 29th at Westminster Abbey here in London. So that leaves, only, what? 157 days to plan an event that has captured the world's attention. CNN's Dan Rivers reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN RIVERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Finally, they've named the date, and they've had to negotiate a minefield of potential clashes with other important events.

HUGO VICKERS, ROYAL BIOGRAPHER: This coming year, of course, on the 10th of June, you have Prince Philip's 90th birthday, which will have a certain amount of celebrating of the older generation of the family. And then, of course, you would never want it to clash with, for example, Lent or any political elections that were taking place, or anything of that kind.

So, I imagine they probably were restricted to, perhaps, a handful of dates, and 29th of April is the one they've come up with.

RIVERS (voice-over): The venue is Westminster Abbey, steeped in a thousand years of history and royal connections. It was here that the queen married Prince Philip in 1947. Today, it was announced he will retire from many of his royal duties with 800 charities next year when he turns 90. It could allow Prince William to take over some of the work.

Unlike the wedding of William's parents, Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Prince William and Catherine's wedding will be more modest, so don't expect to see a bridal train like this. Instead, royal sources say Westminster Abbey has been chosen because of its more intimate atmosphere.

William and Catherine are said to be mindful of the tough economic situation the UK is facing, and the wedding will reflect that to a degree. Like the queen's wedding, it will be paid for by the royal household, with the government paying for security. Experts say the bill will run into the millions.

DEBORAH JOSEPH, EDITOR, BRIDE MAGAZINE: Well, I think it's fair to say the royal wedding is going to be considerably more than the average wedding, which is 22,000, 23,000 pounds. Again, you just can't put a figure on it, but a wedding can cost 5,000 pounds, it can cost a million pounds. There's really no specific. It depends how much they want to spend on flowers, how much the venue costs. And also there's things like the honeymoon to consider. When you count all of that into it, it's endless.

RIVERS (on camera): Royal sources say the couple are very keen that their wedding should be a classic example of what Britain does best. They're described as being completely over the moon and on cloud nine, but they're very much in charge of the arrangements themselves as they get ready for a wedding that will be a worldwide event. Dan Rivers, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE: When William's parents, Charles and Diana, got married 30 years ago, 750 million people all around the world tuned in to watch. And that was before DVR, internet, and streaming video. So, could the wedding of William and Kate smash that record? We ask CONNECT THE WORLD's loyal audience on four different continents to weigh in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS RICHARDSON, SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA: I think it's a really good thing to happen for England. The last big thing that happened like this was Princess Diana and Charles getting married. It was a long time ago, and I think the country will be really excited about it. Yes, it's just a good thing to happen.

SPENCER CROUCH, ST. CATHARINES, CANADA: Personally, I don't really -- I haven't been following it. I know that there are lots of people who are excited for it here, though. I think there's some excitement for it. I think people are fascinated. But I can't really comment in terms of whether there will be widespread hysteria here in Canada.

LARA KURIK, EAST LONDON, SOUTH AFRICA: There hasn't been an extreme interest to the vast majority of South Africans. I'm obviously living in South Africa at the moment. It certainly is something that is of interest on the world stage. I certainly will catch it, it's not something that I'll probably be glued to the screen with, but I'll certainly want to see the highlights of it, yes.

DANIAL LISSBORG, KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA: Definitely. It's definitely more the generation was around with Princess Diana and that kind of thing, so that the generation before me. So, my parents and my friends' parents are the ones who are very interested in this kind of thing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE: Excitement over the royal engagement is ramping up in the United States, where Kate Middleton is on the cover of all the major tabloid magazines this week. Take a look at that. And in New York, women are even snapping up replicas of that famous sapphire ring, as CNN's Richard Roth reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR UN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Zain, the engagement announcement renewed strong interest in the royals here in the United States. But since the passing of Princess Diana, there's been two wars, an economic crisis, and a lot of other people are saying, "Good luck, but it's not much of a concern to us."

Now, as we all know, it was Princess Diana's engagement ring that was given by Prince William to Kate Middleton. One Manhattan jeweler is benefiting from all of this. The Natural Sapphire Company has sold dozens of replica rings like these, and is getting heavy online interest.

LIVIA BRODE, NATURAL SAPPHIRE COMPANY: This is a really lovely in terms of the size and the shape of the stone, a beautiful oval, blue sapphire, 16 carats. So, this would be about the same size of Kate Middleton's ring.

ROTH: What is the cost of each one of these rings.

BRODE: Well, they can range from $60,000 for lighter colored stones to over $200,000 for deeper color blue sapphires. In gemology and gemological terms, the deeper the blue the more desirable.

ROTH: We brought one of the replica rings, valued at $120,000, out onto the streets to get reaction to the engagement and to the sapphire now being worn by the future bride.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For a prince, it's not bad.

ROTH: How important is an engagement ring to you? Or was it? I see there's a baby here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was expected, but I would have married him without a ring.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no real opinion about it. I don't really care about the wedding.

ROTH: Why do you think that is?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we have a couple bigger problems going on right now, here. They're having some problems over there. The economy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that real?

ROTH: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or is that just -- ?

ROTH: No, it's real. What, do you think it was from a Cracker Jack box? It's real.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It actually looks like it. I think you could do better than that.

ROTH: No, it's very expensive. But have you ever given a woman a ring like that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. If I could, I would.

ROTH: You would not have been happy to get your mother-in-law's ring.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. No. I would like to get my own personal ring.

ROTH: Does that do anything for you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never bought her that ring. If my wife is watching, I've never seen this woman before, I never bought her that ring at all.

ROTH: Americans still have a lot of other priorities, but many will make time on the wedding day, April 29th. Zain, back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE: Richard Roth. I wouldn't mind one of those blue sapphire rings. How much was it, $16,000 on the cheap end? And finally, who is going to design the bride's dress? Earlier today, Max Foster speculated with the woman who dressed Prince William's mother on the day she was married.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Elizabeth, we're just looking through your book, here. This is a sketch, isn't it, of Diana's dress?

ELIZABETH EMANUEL, DESIGNER: That's right.

FOSTER: Do you remember when you were commissioned?

EMANUEL: Oh, very much, because I was in the showroom with a client having a fitting, and the phone was ringing and ringing and nobody was picking up. So, I was a bit agitated, and I finally went to the phone. "Yes, hello?"

And it was Diana, and she said, "Would you do me the honor of making my wedding dress?" And it just came out like that. It was no royal command on a silver platter or anything.

FOSTER: And you kept it quiet for months, didn't you? How did you do that?

EMANUEL: Oh, the security was so tight. And this was all new for us. Can you imagine never having any experience like this before. We had some amazing people in our team, and they didn't speak to anybody. Plus, we were with each other. It was great, because we could talk amongst ourselves.

FOSTER: And then, you got to the big day, the wedding day, and then the dress came out, and what was your involvement on that day?

EMANUEL: On the day of the wedding, David and I went to Clarence House, and we dressed the princess. That was fantastic, the atmosphere was just amazing. We were sort of panicking and Diana was so calm, and we were all singing. Amazing atmosphere. You could hear the noise outside of the people cheering on the TV, somebody was saying, "We're all wondering what the dress is going to look like," and we were all saying, "Yes, we know."

And then, we went to St. Paul's, and we were there during part of the ceremony behind a pillar, so we didn't actually see what was going on.

(PHONE BEEPING)

FOSTER: I'm just going to check to check that text, because we're expecting news of the date anytime. And there we have it. Would you believe?

EMANUEL: What's the date? Isn't that very good timing?

FOSTER: Prince William and Kate Middleton are to be married on Friday the 29th of April next year at Westminster Abbey. What do you make of that?

EMANUEL: Oh, I think that's just wonderful. Oh, my goodness.

FOSTER: Westminster Abbey number one?

EMANUEL: Westminster Abbey is just the most amazing place.

FOSTER: Your dress was a real reflection of the times. How's Kate going to reflect the times with her dress, do you think?

EMANUEL: Very different. When we did Diana's dress, we didn't think of it as reflecting the times. That's just what we designed. Looking back, now, you can see very much it was an 80s dress.

I would imagine seeing her style now, which is much more simple, in a way, she's got her own style. Diana didn't, really, at the time, because she was so much younger.

FOSTER: Are there any cues we can take from that engagement dress, do you think?

EMANUEL: That was really stunning, wasn't it? That pretty engagement dress, and it was very simple, and it had some structure to it, some really nice detail. Maybe something like that. I would -- one thing is, I'm pretty certain you're not going to see all the flounces and frills of Diana.

FOSTER: Has she picked it, already, do you think? The designer?

EMANUEL: Honestly, I have no idea. Most probably, but -- it's not that far away, so whoever the designer is, it's going to be a lot of work.

FOSTER: Pressure's on.

EMANUEL: Pressure's on.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE: Save the date, April the 29th next year. Come to London, buy a souvenir or, at the very least, get in front of a TV and watch that historic moment.

Next up, counting for candy. How these bright-eyed little creatures have learned to earn sweets by showing their smarts.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VERJEE: We can teach birds to talk, dogs to bring us our slippers. There's no question that animals are smart. But are they more intelligent than we really think? That's what we're exploring all this week on CONNECT THE WORLD, and we began with dolphins. US researchers have discovered these incredible creatures can recognize themselves in a mirror, a skill they learn even earlier than a human child.

Self-awareness, it's an important capability, right? So, too, is the ability to count. Well, as Randi Kaye finds out, basic math skills aren't unique to human brains, either.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The first thing you notice about lemurs are their eyes. They are big and wide and full of curiosity.

KAYE (on camera): There you go. You are just the sweetest little thing. What are you thinking? That's what we're here to find out. What's going on in that little brain of yours?

KAYE (voice-over): That's what scientists at Duke University's Lemur Center are trying to figure out. And so far, they are pretty impressed. They say lemurs are deep thinkers who understand numbers and sequencing, even abstract thinking.

KAYE (on camera): Here at Duke, they have the largest captive collection of lemurs in the world. Lemurs have actually received a lot less attention than apes and monkeys when it comes to researching how they think. But the folks here at the Duke Lemur Center are looking into how lemurs think because they believe that they can offer some insight into how our primate ancestors actually thought about 75 million years ago. Isn't that right?

KAYE (voice-over): Duke University professor, Elizabeth Brannon, heads up the lemur research here.

ELIZABETH BRANNON, PROFESSOR, DUKE UNIVERSITY: Hey, Pedro. Thanks for helping out today.

KAYE (voice-over): She said lemurs are so sophisticated when it comes to numbers, they rival monkeys. And like human babies, lemurs understand numbers without actually understanding language.

We got to see for ourselves how smart lemurs are. My jaw dropped as I watched these primates from Madagascar take tests on a computer. This lemur had learned to recognize which square has more red dots.

He uses his nose, and if he picks the right one, which he mostly does, a sugar pellet drops down. Lemurs love sweets.

BRANNON: We're asking, can the lemur learn an abstract rule about numbers? Can the lemur learn that he always has to chose the smaller number or the larger number and apply this to pictures he's had no training on.

KAYE (voice-over): In this next test, the lemur has to work from memory. Before the computer test, the lemur was shown seven pictures, but he never saw all the pictures together.

Scientists want to know if he can remember which pictures came first in the sequence when he's shown just two of the pictures on the computer screen in now particular order. Can lemur's think abstractly and infer things they haven't been taught directly?

BRANNON: We're teaching him that one picture, picture A, comes before picture B, and that picture B comes before picture C, and we want to know whether he can figure out the relationship between pictures A and C.

KAYE (voice-over): Professor Brannon says this lemur successfully memorized the relationship between the pictures and still remembered it for this test, even though he hadn't seen the pictures in the last two years.

BRANNON: For a long time, it was thought that lemurs weren't capable of doing a lot of things that other primates were in the cognitive domain. So, in some ways, this is surprising, how well they're able to do in this task.

KAYE (voice-over): What else surprised Professor Brannon? That lemurs, like humans, avoid risk.

BRANNON: We figured out that they really don't like to gamble.

KAYE (voice-over): How does she know? Because in this test, lemurs are taught that if they choose the photograph of the train, they could get a bunch of sugar pellets as a reward, or possibly no pellets at all.

But if they choose the safe option, the flag photo, they always get one pellet. Brannon says lemurs are smart enough to make an association between the photograph and the outcome.

There are exceptions. But even when the risky choice will sometimes deliver more treats, most lemurs prefer the safer option, the photo that guarantees them one treat.

BRANNON: Even if we give them six, seven, or eight pellets in the jackpot, they still prefer a single pellet, even though the average payoff is much great in the risky side.

KAYE (voice-over): Why does any of this matter? Professor Brannon says it can help humans figure out how our thinking evolved.

BRANNON: What are the fundamental building blocks upon which complex human cultures and systems of knowledge are built. And by studying these kinds of thought processes in lemurs and monkeys and apes and other animals, we can begin to shed insight into that kind of question.

KAYE (voice-over): And while Professor Brannon doesn't expect lemurs to be learning calculus anytime soon, she does believe we've only scratched the surface of their amazing intelligence. Randi Kaye, CNN, Durham, North Carolina.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE: There they are, smiling at themselves, more like it. Tomorrow night, we're going to be continuing our special look at intelligent animals. And this time, we're going to have a conversation with an ape. Yes, that's right, you heard me right. A chat with a bonobo.

We actually share more than 98 percent of the same DNA with these cousins of the chimpanzee, so there's going to be some similarities, right? We will tell you more on that groundbreaking research a little bit later tomorrow night. Tonight, though, we'll be right back with our Connector of the Day.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE: Men adore her, women want to be just like her. Tonight's CONNECTOR OF THE DAY is a household name in Nigeria, a screen diva who's enchanted Africa and is now stepping into the global spotlight. Max Foster gets us connected.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER (voice-over): Move over, Hollywood. Nigeria's Nollywood is the new rising star. Last year, it eclipsed Tinseltown as the world's second-largest film producer. It distributes more than 2,000 films a year, many of which are now being seen across the African continent and in much of the west.

This recent boom has also added a strong celebrity-centric culture to the country, where paparazzi are constantly vying to get a glimpse of the latest "it" stars. One of the industry's biggest names is Genevieve Nnaji. Often called the Angelina Jolie of Nigeria, Genevieve is one of Nollywood's golden girls.

Having started her career in soap operas, it didn't take long for Nnaji to take over the silver screen. And today, she is one of the highest-paid actresses in Nollywood. She spoke to me about the recent boom and why it's taken off.

GENEVIEVE NNAJI, NIGERIAN ACTRESS: Cinema is pretty new in Nigeria. It used to be back in the day, but that sort of petered off. It's new, it's coming back and, hopefully, it comes to stay. But for now, all we do are home videos, movies for your TV.

But we've had success stories like "Ije" and a few other movies that have been shot on film and had to be premiered and shown in the cinemas. And it's amazing how people have received this, so --

FOSTER (on camera): Tell us about "Bursting Out," for people that don't know about the movie and are thinking about going to see it. What's it about?

NNAJI: "Bursting Out" is a romantic comedy. It's about this very uppity, uptight, elitist woman who falls in love with the wrong guy in the wrong class of life, and then had a discovery about it. But then, she falls in love hard.

FOSTER: We've got lots of viewer questions, of course, from all over the world, actually. Robin from Cameroon asks, "What is your biggest challenge as an actress in Africa?"

NNAJI: In the beginning, it was pretty challenging, because first of all, you had to -- it's not a culture Africans have, back in the day, took to very readily. So, it was hard, having to go through that and, at the same time, convince people that you know what you're doing and they should give you a chance to prove yourself.

And it's possible to do something to actually be in the public eye and be an actor and still be normal. So, it was challenging --

FOSTER: You're not normal. You can't walk down the streets of Lagos, can you?

NNAJI: No.

FOSTER: What's it like, living that life? It's crazy, isn't it? You get mobbed.

NNAJI: I don't walk. I drive.

FOSTER: You drive.

NNAJI: So, I'm safe.

FOSTER: Nancy Samara from America says, "Who is the one actor in Hollywood that you would want to work with, and why?"

NNAJI: Angelina Jolie. I'm a huge fan. Love her, love her, love her. Johnny Depp. Amazing actor. I think he's so intriguing. I think there's just something mysterious about him.

FOSTER: Pat from our Facebook page asks, "How do you discover other talented Nigerian actors, and what do you do to give back to your country?"

NNAJI: We have quite a number of young ones back home who are trying to be actors and actresses, and they are really working hard. But all you have to do is audition and prove yourself and believe in yourself, and you --

FOSTER: How do you break through?

NNAJI: You definitely -- you break through at some point. And what do I do to give back? I basically look out for talents in the industry. I look out for talents, I encourage a lot of producers to try out new people. And for the society, the little I can do, to be honest.

FOSTER: Catyatoo asks, "What advice would you give to young Nigerian girls that may want to follow in your footsteps?"

NNAJI: I would tell them, definitely be sure, first of all. That --

FOSTER: Would you advise them to go into the industry?

NNAJI: Yes, of course. It's a wonderful place to be, especially if you love what you -- if you are sure you can do it, it's a wonderful place to be. I would definitely advise them to believe in themselves, be true to themselves, and be sure that it's something that they are willing to do, and they are ready for the consequences. Because every good thing comes with consequences.

FOSTER: What are they? Lack of privacy.

NNAJI: You lose your privacy.

FOSTER: Yes.

NNAJI: For starters, yes.

FOSTER: Philip Peter from Lagos asks, "What has been your biggest regret in Nigerian film?"

NNAJI: Oh, boy. Regrets? I don't know, I hardly regret anything. I just learn from mistakes. I don't regret anything. It's too hard. You do the best you can at that point in time. Everything's about growth and progress, and I've gotten older so, obviously, you learn more. You learn on the job. I love my job, don't regret anything at all.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE: Max Foster talking to the Connector of the Day, Nigerian actress Genevieve Nnaji. Now, the rest of the week, we're going to bring you some of our favorite Connectors. Among them, the man they dubbed the Jewish Elvis, Neil Diamond reveals the true identity of the lady he calls "Sweet Caroline."

That's tomorrow night. For more on our great lineup of Connectors, just go to cnn.com/connect, OK? You'll be wowed. It's great. Tonight, we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VERJEE: Welcome back. Returning, now, to our top story. One of the worst clashes between the Koreas since their war in the 1950s. Even in the best of times, the atmosphere is incredibly tense along their heavily fortified border. I saw that for myself back in 2006 when I traveled to the Demilitarized Zone.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE (voice-over): Glares, scowls, and sneers. The most loyal of North Korea's troops sever here, on guard at the Demilitarized Zone that splits North from South. Back to back with US and South Korean soldiers, separated only by a 16 inch concrete line. If you cross it, the consequences could be deadly.

VERJEE (on camera): That's North Korea, and we're looking at North Korean soldiers on the other side. Marching away from us. Marching away from the military demarcation line. They're so close, we can see the expressions on their faces. Stern.

The most interesting thing in this room is actually this table. You can see a line sort of runs right through the middle of it. And the most fascinating and exciting thing about being here in this otherwise ordinary room is that this is the South, but when I step over this way, across the line, I'm in North Korea.

And if I open this door right here, which I can't, because South Korean and American troops are guarding it and protecting us, we'd go straight into the arms of the North Korean military on the other side.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE: That was 2006. But back to the present day and North Korea's deadly artillery barrage that it says was a response to Seoul's provocative war games.

Thousands of you are sharing your reports on the story. Rvdv writes this on our blog. "This is what happens when a war ends in a tie."

Joker says, "With the US bogged down in the Middle East, I'm surprised North Korea hasn't rolled into the South or Beijing into Taiwan. Everybody knows the world isn't going to react with anything more than a protest."

Get your voice heard, OK? Just head to our website, cnn.com/connect. Tell us what you think. We really like it when you do that.

Old computers. They're usually pretty worthless, and they just end up on the scrap heap. But Christie's today auctioned a 34-year-old model for more than $216,000. Why? Well, it was the Apple One, considered the first personal computer ever made. So, in tonight's Parting Shots, we're going to take a look at other relics that, rather than being trashed, have become treasures.

This is the world's first commercially-produced camera. The 171-year- old French invention was sold at auction for almost $900,000.

The Starship Enterprise may seem a little bit outdated these days, would you say? But a few years back, it sold for almost $600,000, 12 times the estimated price.

Take a look at this burnt guitar. This is the first that Jimmy Hendrix set fire to on stage. It fetched $600,000.

And a penny black stamp dating from 1840 is going under the hammer tomorrow. It's expected to fetch $70,000. Old, yes, but that is far from worthless. And that's tonight's Parting Shots.

I'm Zain Verjee, that's your world connected. "BackStory" is next, right after this check of the headlines.

END