North Korea's five-day window to launch a rocket opened on Thursday with no confirmed firing, but Asian countries remained on alert as Washington rallied world opinion against the Communist state.

The morning timeframe in which North Korea plans to launch its 30-metre rocket came and went with no sign of liftoff from a newl space centre on the country's northwestern Yellow Sea coast.

But the North says the Unha-3 (Galaxy-3) rocket, ostensibly carrying a satellite payload, could go up any day between now and Monday to coincide with Sunday's centenary of the birth of its founding leader Kim Il-Sung.

North Korea is now led by a third generation of the Kim dynasty in the youthful form of Kim Jong-Un, who has been awarded an array of titles including on Wednesday chairman of the all-powerful Central Military Commission.

‘Wrong turn'

AP adds from Pyongyang:

The press bus carrying foreign journalists took a wrong turn on Thursday. And suddenly, everything changed in the official showcase of North Korean achievement.

A cloud of brown dust swirled down deeply potholed streets, past concrete apartment buildings crumbling at the edges. Old people trudged along the sidewalk, some with handmade backpacks crafted from canvas bags. Two men in wheelchairs waited at a bus stop. There were stores with no lights, and side roads so battered they were more dirt than pavement.

“Perhaps this is an incorrect road?” mumbled one of the North Korean minders, well-dressed government officials who restrict reporters to meticulously staged presentations.

So as cameras madly clicked, the drivers of the three buses quickly backed up in the narrow streets and headed back toward the intended destination.

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