South Korea kicked off its first large-scale military parade in a decade, with weapons ranging from ballistic missiles to attack helicopters due to roll through Seoul in a show of force as it takes a tougher stance against North Korea.
According to international media reports, the parade marks the country’s Armed Forces Day, normally a muted event relative to the massive events the North has staged under leader Kim Jong-un that include strategic weapons such as intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM).
In a speech at Seoul Air Base, President Yoon Suk Yeol warned Pyongyang against the use of nuclear weapons and pledged to ramp up support for the military and the defence industry.
“If North Korea uses nuclear weapons, its regime will be brought to an end by an overwhelming response from the ROK-U.S. alliance,” Yoon said while addressing troops in the rain.
The full-day event will feature thousands of troops and South Korea’s home-grown tanks and self-propelled artillery as well as attack aircraft and drones, joined by 300 of the 28,500 US soldiers based in the country, the Defence Ministry said.
The highlight will be a two-kilometre (1.24 mile) parade through Seoul’s main commercial and business district to the bustling Gwanghwamun area which is the gate to a sprawling palace in the heart of Seoul.
South Korea last held a military street parade in 2013. The Armed Forces Day event and parade are being held before the actual day on Oct. 1, as it overlaps with a major national holiday this year.