South Korea Displays Ballistic Missiles

Remember the “state of war” declaration by North Korea back in March of this year? Well, here it’s how South Korea responded: by displaying ballistic missiles on Armed Forces Day    

It was South Korea’s biggest Armed Forces Day ceremony in a decade, and the first since North Korea conducted its third atomic test and threatened nuclear war earlier this year.

About 11,000 troops, 190 weapons systems and other equipment and 120 aircraft were featured at Tuesday’s ceremony at a military airport just south of Seoul. Among them were GPS-guided, Hyunmu-3 cruise missiles with a range of 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) that South Korea developed in recent years. It was the first time the domestically built Hyunmu-3 was publicly shown, according to Seoul’s Defense Ministry.

President Park Geun-hye said in a speech at the ceremony that South Korea must maintain its strong alliance with the US and establish missile defence and pre-emptive strike capabilities to let North Korea know “the nuclear weapons and missiles it is obsessed with are useless.”

“We must build up a strong deterrence against North Korea until it puts down its nuclear weapons program and make a right choice for its own people and peace on the Korean Peninsula,” she said as visiting US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel sat nearby.

Later Tuesday, South Korea was to hold a military parade through the streets of Seoul for the first time since 2008.

Such large-scale Armed Forces Day celebrations are normally held every five years, when a new president takes office. In 2008, however, the event was much smaller, with fewer soldiers mobilised for the parade and the ceremony held at a sports stadium, instead of a military airport.

Ms Park took office in February for a single five-year term with a policy that combines vows of strong counter-action to any North Korea provocation with efforts to build trust and re-establish dialogue.

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