South Korea to hold first military parade in 10 years in show of strength

Nearly 7,000 troops, including US service members, will take part in the parade through the streets of central Seoul.

Hyunmoo-2 and Hyunmoo-3 ballistic missiles on display at a previous Armed Forces Day event. A soldier is in front and South Korean flags are flying.
South Korea's Hyunmoo missiles will be featured in the parade [Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters]

South Korea is due to hold its first large-scale military parade in a decade with weapons and equipment rolling through the streets of Seoul in a rare show of force.

The parade along a 2km (1.24 mile) route through the capital’s main commercial and business district is due to get under way at 4pm (07:00 GMT) on Tuesday to mark Armed Forces Day, usually a muted occasion in South Korea.

Nearly 7,000 troops are expected to take part, with the country showing off more than 340 pieces of military equipment including tanks, self-propelled artillery and attack aircraft and drones, according to the defence ministry.

The parade comes as President Yoon Suk-yeol takes a more muscular approach to dealing with North Korea, which has conducted dozens of banned weapons tests this year as well as launching what it said was a “nuclear-attack” submarine and trying to put a military spy satellite into orbit.

Speaking in the rain at the Seongnam airbase on the outskirts of the capital, Yoon warned Pyongyang of an “overwhelming response” that would bring the regime to an end if it used nuclear weapons.

Tuesday’s parade will start at Seongnam where Hyunmoo missiles, L-SAM missile interceptors, F-35 jets and the country’s first domestically developed fighter, the KF-21, will be put on public display.

Hyunmoo is one of South Korea’s latest missiles, which analysts say is an integral part of Seoul’s plans for striking North Korea during a conflict, while the L-SAM is designed to hit incoming missiles at altitudes of between 50 and 60kms (31-37 miles).

The celebrations will also feature a joint flyover by military aircraft from South Korea and the United States to demonstrate their “upgraded” defence posture, the ministry said. More than 300 combat troops from the Eighth Army, under US Forces Korea, will also take part in the parade as the two countries mark the 70th anniversary of their alliance.

Military parades are a common feature of life in North Korea, with leader Kim Jong Un recently inviting officials from Russia and China to view the weaponry rolling through Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Square.

Last week, Kim travelled to Russia where he met President Vladimir Putin and was shown some of Russia’s advanced weaponry as they agreed to boost military cooperation.

Yoon, a conservative who took office last year, has said that if Russia helps North Korea enhance its weapons programmes in return for assistance for its war in Ukraine, it would be “a direct provocation”.

South Korea last held a military parade in 2013.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies