Seoul, South Korea – South Korea displayed its advanced weaponry in a military parade on Tuesday, marking the country’s 75th Armed Forces Day. The parade, the first of its kind in a decade, showcased tanks and missiles rolling through the streets of Seoul, despite the rainy weather.
The military event comes at a time of escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula, as South Korea aligns itself closer with the United States and Japan to counter the threat of North Korea’s rapidly advancing weapons program. President Yoon Suk Yeol delivered a speech at the Seoul Air Base, warning North Korea against the use of nuclear weapons.
Yoon stated, “If North Korea uses nuclear weapons, its regime will be brought to an end by an overwhelming response from the (Seoul-Washington) alliance.”
In response to South Korea’s military parade, North Korea’s United Nations Ambassador Kim Song accused the US of spreading its influence across the Korean Peninsula. Kim claimed that Pyongyang was urgently required to accelerate its self-defense capabilities, adding that the Korean Peninsula was moving closer to the brink of a nuclear war.
The parade featured several thousand South Korean soldiers and over 300 US troops, according to the Ministry of National Defense. Alongside troops, the event showcased various military equipment, including drones, tanks, and armored personnel carriers. The parade aimed to send a message to regional powers such as North Korea and China, as well as to South Korea’s allies, including the United States.
Peter Layton, a visiting fellow at Griffith Asia Institute, noted that the parade served multiple purposes, including boosting domestic factors. Layton explained that the event aimed to portray South Korea as an important power on the global stage and emphasized the country’s defense industry as an exporter of arms.
Yoon has expressed his goal of making South Korea one of the world’s top four arms exporters, following the US, Russia, and France. The defense industry has seen significant growth, with $7 billion of defense exports in 2021.
The military parade highlighted South Korea’s enduring alliance with the US and its growing alignment with Japan, as North Korea continues to test its weapons. There are concerns that Pyongyang may resume nuclear testing, with satellite imagery indicating activity at its underground nuclear test site.
In response to the North Korean threat, Yoon and US President Joe Biden announced a new agreement earlier this year, aimed at deterring North Korean aggression. The agreement includes the deployment of a nuclear-armed submarine in South Korea for the first time since the 1980s. Yoon, Biden, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida also held a historic summit in August, announcing new military exercises and a crisis communications hotline.
The military parade serves as a demonstration of South Korea’s military capabilities and its commitment to regional security.