Seoul, South Korea
South Korea showed off an arsenal of advanced weaponry at a military parade on Tuesday, rolling tanks and missiles through the rain-soaked streets of their capital during the first event of its kind in a decade.
The parade, held to mark the 75th Armed Forces Day, which commemorates the founding of the country’s armed forces, comes against a backdrop of rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula as South Korea moves closer to the United States and Japan. against the threat of North Korea Accelerate the weapons program.
The event began in the morning with ceremonies and performances at Seoul Air Base, where President Yoon Suk Yeol gave a speech warning Pyongyang against the use of nuclear weapons.
“If North Korea uses nuclear weapons, its regime will come to an end thanks to an overwhelming response from the (Seoul-Washington) alliance,” Yoon said, speaking in the rain.
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South Korea holds a military parade on September 26, 2023 in Seoul.
Later on Tuesday, North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations, Kim Song, stated that Pyongyang had been “urgently required to further accelerate the development of (its) self-defense capabilities,” saying the Korean Peninsula was becoming “bringing closer to the brink of nuclear war.” .”
Speaking in New York at the UN General Assembly, Kim accused the United States of spreading its influence around the world, particularly on the Korean Peninsula.
The military parade, the first in South Korea since 2013, continued in the afternoon, with troops and military equipment marching through the heart of Seoul, past City Hall and historic Gwanghwamun Square. The streets were filled with spectators, many of them with plastic ponchos and umbrellas in the rain.
South Korean troops march during the military parade in Seoul, South Korea, on September 26, 2023.
Several thousand South Korean soldiers and more than 300 American soldiers marched during the event, according to the Ministry of National Defense. Other performances included a military band, flag bearers and mascots from each military unit.
A variety of local equipment was on display, including drones, tanks and armored personnel carriers. Soldiers in vehicles waved to the crowds as they passed; Several carriers had the South Korean flag taped to the outside.
Peter Layton, a visiting fellow at Griffith University’s Griffith Asia Institute, said that while the parade served to send “a message to an external audience,” including partners such as the United States and regional powers such as North Korea and China, the event ” “In reality it is about internal factors.”
South Korean soldiers perform a taekwondo demonstration during the event.
The parade and Yoon’s presence “help show (South) Korea to the Korean people that the country is now a major power on the world stage, a critical global power, as the current president calls it,” he said. It also increases public perception of the korean defense industry, which is “achieving notable export success” while other economic sectors are failing, he added.
Yoon had previously expressed his goal of making South Korea one of the world’s top four arms exporters, after the United States, Russia and France. While still a few spots away in the rankings, the industry has grown rapidly, with $7 billion in defense exports in 2021, according to the Export-Import Bank of Korea.
Layton added that the parade also highlights South Korea’s long-standing alliance with the United States, with a rapprochement between the two countries and with Japanas North Korea steps up its weapons tests.
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South Korean weapons and vehicles were displayed during a parade in Seoul on September 26, 2023.
International intelligence has also suggested since last year that Pyongyang could be preparing to resume nuclear testing, with satellite images showing activity at its underground nuclear test site.
In April of this year, Yoon and U.S. President Joe Biden announced a key new agreement aimed at deterring North Korean aggression, including a new U.S. commitment to deploy a nuclear-armed submarine in South Korea for the first time since the early 1980s.
Yoon, Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida also celebrated. a historic summit in August, announcing new military exercises and a crisis communications hotline. It was the first time Biden hosted foreign leaders at the Camp David retreat in Maryland, a site of historic diplomatic negotiations for past presidents.
This story has been updated to more accurately describe the weapons displayed during the parade.