South Korea stages biggest military parade in a decade

Display of might seen as warning to North Korea

Members of South Korea’s Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) march during the 65th anniversary of Korea Armed Forces Day, at a military airport in Seongnam, south of Seoul, yesterday. Photograph: Reuters.

Members of South Korea’s Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) march during the 65th anniversary of Korea Armed Forces Day, at a military airport in Seongnam, south of Seoul, yesterday. Photograph: Reuters.

Wed, Oct 2, 2013, 01:00


South Korea has staged its biggest military parade in a decade, displaying cruise missiles and torpedoes among a powerful arsenal in what appears to be a show of strength aimed at its neighbour and bitter rival North Korea.

President Park Geun-Hye described the North’s nuclear weapons programme as a “very grave” threat at the parade, which was attended by US defence secretary Chuck Hagel and Gen Martin Dempsey.

“The situation on the Korean peninsula . . . is very grave. North Korea adamantly continues to develop and upgrade its nuclear weapons,” Ms Park said in a speech to mark the 65th Armed Forces Day.

“Until North Korea abandons its nuclear programme and makes the right choice for the North Korean people and peace on the Korean peninsula, we should build strong deterrence towards the North,” she said.

These kind of muscle-flexing displays are more usually associated with North Korea, but in recent years, the South has also put its military might on display in the face of nuclear tensions ratcheted up by Pyongyang.

Among the weaponry on display was the Hyunmoo 3 cruise missile, which Seoul says is capable of precision strikes on North Korean targets. Some 11,000 soldiers and 120 aircraft were mobilised for the event.

South Korea plans to spend nearly 1 trillion won (€687 million) next year building a command system for pre-emptive strikes on North Korean targets. It is also upgrading its missile defence system.

North Korea carried out a third nuclear test in February, triggering months of heightened military tensions on the Korean peninsula, with Pyongyang threatening pre-emptive nuclear strikes on South Korea and the United States.

The US commitment to defend South Korea is central to South Korea’s defence options and 28,500 US troops are currently stationed there.

Guest of honour Hagel has reiterated the US’s commitment to its military partnership with the South. The aircraft carrier USS George Washington is due to arrive in the South Korean port of Busan tomorrow, together with a guided-missile cruiser and destroyer, the US Navy said.