Rare Military Parade In South Korea Displays Missiles, Drones, And Tanks
A rare military parade in South Korea displays missiles, drones, and tanksthrough the rain-soaked streets of its capital city. This event, the first of its kind in a decade, was organized to commemorate the 75th Armed Forces Day, honoring the founding of the country's armed forces.
The parade occurred amid escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula, as South Korea forges closer ties with the United States and Japan to counter the growing threat posed by North Korea's rapidly advancing weapons program.
The day's festivities commenced in the morning at the Seoul Air Base, featuring ceremonies and performances. President Yoon Suk Yeol used this platform to deliver a stern warning to Pyongyang, cautioning against using nuclear weapons.
If North Korea uses nuclear weapons, its regime will be brought to an end by an overwhelming response from the (Seoul-Washington) alliance.- President Yoon Suk Yeol
The parade, a significant event not seen in South Korea since 2013, unfolded in the afternoon. Troops and military equipment made their way through the heart of Seoul, passing iconic landmarks such as the city hall and historic Gwanghwamun Square. Despite the rain, the streets were filled with spectators, many donning plastic ponchos and clutching umbrellas.
The procession featured 4,600 South Korean soldiers alongside over 300 US troops, as confirmed by the Ministry of National Defense. The event also included captivating performances, including a military band, flag-bearers, and mascots representing various military units.
The parade featured an array of domestically produced equipment, including drones, tanks, and armored personnel carriers. Soldiers riding in these vehicles enthusiastically greeted the onlooking crowd, with several carriers proudly displaying the South Korean flag on their exteriors.
Peter Layton, a visiting fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute at Griffith University, noted that while the parade certainly conveyed a message to external audiences, including allies like the United States and neighboring powers such as North Korea and China, its primary focus was on domestic considerations.
The parade and President Yoon's presence serve to present South Korea as a significant player on the global stage, emphasizing its role as a pivotal global power, as described by the current president. This not only resonates with the Korean people but also enhances the public perception of the Korean defense industry, which has been achieving remarkable success in exports, especially at a time when other economic sectors face challenges.
President Yoon has articulated his ambition to elevate South Korea to one of the world's top four arms exporters, following the likes of the US, Russia, and France. While it currently holds a lower position in the rankings, the defense industry has experienced rapid growth, registering $7 billion in defense exports in 2021, as reported by the Export-Import Bank of Korea.
The parade underscores South Korea's enduring alliance with the United States, as the two nations draw closer together, and with Japan, especially as North Korea intensifies its weapons testing activities.
International intelligence reports have been suggesting since last year that Pyongyang may be in the process of preparing to resume nuclear testing, as satellite imagery has revealed activity at its underground nuclear test site.
In April of this year, President Yoon and US President Joe Biden unveiled a significant new agreement aimed at deterring North Korean aggression. This agreement includes a commitment from the United States to deploy a nuclear-armed submarine in South Korea, marking the first such deployment since the early 1980s.
President Yoon, President Biden, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida convened a historic summit in August. During this summit, they announced plans for new military exercises and the establishment of a hotline for crisis communication. This summit held special significance as it marked the first time foreign leaders were hosted by President Biden at the Camp David retreat in Maryland, a site renowned for its historic role in diplomatic negotiations by past presidents.