NK fires more rockets as Pope visits Seoul

August 14, 2014

This Rodong Sinmun photo released on June 30, 2014, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un observing a tactical rocket firing drill of the North’s Strategic Force at an unidentified place. (Yonhap)

By Jun Ji-hye

North Korea fired five short-range rockets into the East Sea on Thursday, while South Korea was welcoming Pope Francis to Seoul with his message of peace for the Korean Peninsula.

According to the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), Pyongyang launched three rockets, believed to have come from a 300-millimeter multiple rocket launcher, at 9:30, 9:40 and 9:55 a.m.

The Pope landed in Seongnam, south of Seoul, around 10 a.m.

The Stalinist state also fired two more rockets in the afternoon: one at 12:56 p.m. and one at 1:05 p.m.

“The rockets were fired in a northeastern direction from the eastern border town of Wonsan,” JCS spokesman Um Hyo-sik told reporters.

The first three rockets are believed to have landed in the East Sea after traveling about 220 kilometers, he said. The others are believed to have traveled about 200 kilometers.

The reclusive state did not announce a no-fly, no-sail zone ahead of the launch.

“The South Korean military has remained vigilant against additional launches and is taking the necessary steps,” Um added.

It was the North’s 17th rocket launch this year.