Seoul Sees Rare Military Parade Amid Pyongyang’s Threats
South Korea’s first large-scale military parade in a decade is due to get under way at 4 pm local time on Tuesday to mark Armed Forces Day, usually a muted event in the country.
Weapons and equipment ranging from ballistic missiles to attack helicopters will roll along a 2 km route through Seoul’s main commercial and business district in a rare show of force.
Nearly 7,000 troops are expected to take part, with South Korea showing off more than 340 pieces of military equipment including tanks and self-propelled artillery.
The parade comes as South Korea takes a tougher stance against the North, which has conducted a series of banned weapons tests in the last few months.
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The regime has also drawn flak for launching what it said was a “nuclear-attack” submarine as well as for trying to put a military spy satellite into orbit.
The full-day event in Seoul will be joined by 300 of the 28,500 US soldiers based in the country, according to the Defence Ministry. South Korea last held a military street parade in 2013.
The event comes as Yoon Suk-yeol has taken a hawkish stance on North Korea, promising a swift and overwhelming response against any aggression from the neighbour.
In an effort to counter the North’s evolving nuclear programmes, the South Korean president has actively reinforced a military alliance with Washington and Tokyo since taking office last year.
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Tuesday’s parade will put on public display Hyunmoo missiles, L-SAM missile interceptors, F-35 jets and the country’s first domestically developed fighter, the KF-21.
The event will also feature a joint flyover by South Korean and US military aircraft to demonstrate an “upgraded” combined defence posture, according to the ministry.
The parade comes a week after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un returned from a trip to Russia, during which he and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to enhance military cooperation.
US and South Korean officials fear Russia could be trying to acquire ammunition from the North while Pyongyang seeks technological help for its nuclear and missile programmes.