S. Korea stages first military parade in a decade

Making the right moves: South Korean soldiers demonstrate their taekwondo skills during a ceremony to mark the 75th anniversary of the Armed Forces Day in Seongnam. — AFP

SEOUL: South Korea staged its first military parade in a decade, showcasing its advanced arsenal in the face of plummeting ties with nuclear-armed North Korea.

Pyongyang regularly puts on huge military parades, but such events in Seoul are traditionally arranged every five years to mark South Korea’s Armed Forces Day.

The last parade was in 2013. Five years later, then-president Moon Jae-in chose to hold a celebratory ceremony instead of a military event, in line with his conciliatory approach to North Korea.Yesterday’s parade in Seoul began around 4pm and involved around 6,700 troops and 340 pieces of military equipment, including F-35 stealth fighters, the South Korean defence ministry said.

It added that the KF-21, South Korea’s first domestically-produced fighter jet as well as next-generation helicopters and drones were also on display.

Around 200 South Korean and US personnel demonstrated “tactical drops in the same way as an actual aerial infiltration”, the ministry said.

President Yoon Suk-yeol, who was elected last year, has pulled South Korea closer to the United States and the long-standing allies have ramped up defence cooperation – including large-scale drills – to counter growing threats from North Korea. Around 300 US military personnel took part in the parade yesterday.

At a separate ceremony to mark the 75th Armed Forces Day at an airbase in Seoul yesterday, Yoon hailed the expansion of US-South Korea defence ties. — AFP

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