17:57 14 August 2014
North Korea fired three rockets into the sea as the Pope’s plane approached Seoul. Reports confirm that three more rockets were launched shortly after the religious leader, who - somewhat ironically - was visiting to promote peace - touched down.
Pyongyang is known to stage such tests when rival South Korea enjoys the global spotlight with some experts viewing this as a means of grabbing attention to display their military might.
In his first speech after landing, Pope Francis called for renewed efforts for the war-divided sides to make peace. He urged both parties to avoid “fruitless” criticisms. He told South Korean President Pak Geun-hye that forgiveness and mutual respect are needed to acquire peace in the region.
North Korea has tested a number of rockets and missiles this year saying that the move is a retaliation against US-South Korean military exercises which are due to start on Monday.
The Pope will stay in South Korea for five days to meet the country’s five million Catholics. However, much of the attention will be on the Vatican’s relations with China. It was the first time a Pope had been allowed to fly over China on Asian tours.
The Argentinian Pope sent an unprecedented message of goodwill to China before touching down in Seoul. "Upon entering Chinese air space, I extend best wishes to your Excellency and your fellow citizens and I invoke the divine blessing of peace and well-being upon the nation” he said in a radio message to President Xi Jinping.