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Former minister: North Korea was the 'strangest place'

Former Foreign Office minister Bill Rammell is the only British minister to have visited North Korea.

Speaking to Daybreak he said North Korea was the "strangest place" he had ever been to.

He added: "There is probably a degree of brainwashing, the like of which I have never seen anywhere else in the world before."

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South Korea workers leave joint zone with North

The border between South and North Korea remains tense on today, as more South Korean workers returned from the Kaesong industrial complex.

Vehicles loaded with goods were seen passing through a checkpoint heading south across the Demilitarised Zone that divides the two nations.

A vehicle heads towards a checkpoint towards the Demilitarised Zone Credit: APTN

North Korea has pulled out its 53, 000 workers from the Kaesong complex, which is North Korea's last major economic link with the South.

Cars returning from the Kaesong industrial complex. Credit: APTN

South Korea and the US on high alert for North missile

South Korea and the US remain on high alert for a North Korean missile launch, Reuters reports.

North Korea has stationed as many as five medium-range missiles on its east coast, according to defence assessments made by Washington and Seoul, possibly in readiness for a test launch that would demonstrate its ability to hit US bases on Guam.

Today, officials in Seoul said there were no signs that additional steps had been taken today that would indicate the North had moved closer to a launch.

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Russia warns against US military exercises near N Korea

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov is attending the G8 talks in London. Credit: Oli Scarff/PA Wire

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has said his country agrees with the stance taken by the United States in regard to North Korea.

But he warned against American-backed military exercises in the region, the Russian news agency interfax has reported.

Vigilant South fearful of North Korea missile test

Anti-North Korean protesters hold a placard showing portraits of the North's leader Kim Jong-Un and South Korean president Park Geun-hye. Credit: REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won

South Korea has said the chances of North Korea launching a medium-range missile in a show of strength to the world remains "very high" despite diplomatic efforts.

Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said his country had asked China and Russia to attempt to persuade the North to soften its hardened stance and abandon any plans for a launch.

Officials in Seoul said surveillance of North Korean activity had been boosted. Missile transporters had been spotted in South Hamgyong province along North Korea's east coast, a rumoured spot for a launch.

"According to intelligence obtained by our side and the US, the possibility of a missile launch by North Korea is very high," Yun told the South Korean parliament.

Foreign runners welcome despite N Korea's warnings

The IAAF Mangyongdae Prize Marathon has attracted a sizeable number of international runners in recent years. Credit: REUTERS/KCNA

A large contingent of international marathon runners are expected to be welcomed in North Korea despite the safety warnings to foreign embassy staff in the country.

Competitors from Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Ethiopia are expected to join 600 North Koreans in Friday's race, the North's state news agency has said.

The annual Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon, now in its 26th year, is recognised by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

The race is held as part of celebrations for the birthday of the North's founding hero Kim Il Sung, which falls on Saturday and will be marked by a big military parade.

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