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South Korea stages first downtown military parade in 10 years amid North Korea tensions

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South Korea displayed its military might in a rare parade through the streets of Seoul on Tuesday, marking the 75th anniversary of the founding of its armed forces. The event, which was the first of its kind in a decade, showcased the country’s advanced weapons and equipment, including ballistic missiles, fighter jets, drones, tanks and artillery. The parade also featured the participation of about 300 U.S. soldiers, highlighting the strong alliance between the two countries.

The parade began at an airbase in Seongnam, where President Yoon Suk Yeol delivered a speech warning North Korea against any provocation. He said that if Pyongyang ever used nuclear weapons, it would face an overwhelming response from the Seoul-Washington alliance. He also vowed to make South Korea a “pivotal global power” with a strong defense industry and a self-reliant military.

The parade then moved to the heart of Seoul, where thousands of spectators braved the rain to watch the procession. The troops and vehicles marched along a 1.5-kilometer route from Sungnyemun to Gwanghwamun, passing by landmarks such as the city hall and the presidential palace. The event also included a flyover by South Korean and U.S. military aircraft, demonstrating their combined defense posture.

The parade was seen as a show of force and deterrence against North Korea, which has been developing its nuclear and missile programs despite international sanctions and pressure. The North has also staged several military parades under leader Kim Jong Un, displaying its intercontinental ballistic missiles and other strategic weapons. The last time South Korea held a downtown military parade was in 2013, when it celebrated the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended the Korean War.

The parade also reflected South Korea’s growing confidence and ambition as a regional power, as it has developed its own weapons and equipment with cutting-edge technology. Some of the highlights of the parade were the Hyunmoo missiles, which can strike targets across the Korean peninsula; the L-SAM missile interceptors, which can shoot down incoming missiles at high altitudes; the F-35 stealth fighters, which can evade enemy radar; and the KF-21, the country’s first domestically developed fighter jet.

The parade was part of a series of events to commemorate the Armed Forces Day, which falls on Oct. 1. The Defense Ministry said that the parade aimed to honor the sacrifices and achievements of the soldiers and veterans who have defended the country’s sovereignty and peace. It also said that the parade was an opportunity to enhance public trust and pride in the military and to promote national unity and harmony.

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