In June 2000, it was estimated that 2.5 million people had died in the famine that devastated North Korea.
It prompted an exodus of desperate and starving families to cross illegally into neighbouring China - an exodus that leader Kim-Jong Il refused to acknowledge.
Reporter Jung-Eun Kim spent a year filming undercover with the refugees for a special Dateline report.
She witnessed their efforts to stay alive in a hostile and dangerous environment, and their desperation as some were forced to give up their children just to survive.
Dateline's report was written and produced by Peter Charley and went on to win a Walkley Award for Excellence in International Journalism.
In 2001, Dateline returned to see what had happened to the couple featured in this story and the children they were forced to give up, in a story called Border Lives.
And an update on another of the families was included in Amos Roberts' 2010 report, Learning Liberty, on the thousands defecting to South Korea.