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Seoul prepares for first major military parade in ten years

Sept. 25, 2023 - 17:36 By Moon Ki Hoon
South Korean armored vehicles march during a military parade in Seoul on Oct. 1, 2013. (Herald DB)

For the first time in a decade, Seoul citizens will witness a large-scale military parade, with tanks and armed forces marching across the city center Tuesday amid escalating tensions with North Korea.

Major thoroughfares will be closed throughout the day for the event celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Korean Armed Forces' founding, the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency announced on Sept. 20.

The march will commence at the Seoul Air Base at 1:30 p.m. following a memorial ceremony. From there, a force of approximately 3,700 infantry troops and 170 heavy artillery units, including K2 tanks, will split into two routes before converging for a parade in downtown Seoul.

Infantry units will enter the city center through the city’s eastern outskirts on buses, leading to partial traffic restrictions from approximately 1:40 p.m. to 2:50 p.m. stretching from Dongbu expressway to Gangbyeon expressway.

Meanwhile, tanks and armored vehicles are expected to cut through Seoul's southern outskirts, moving through Bangbae-dong and Dongjak-dong before crossing the Hangang Bridge to reach downtown Seoul. Traffic along this route will be restricted in both directions, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:23 p.m.

A joint march will take place in downtown Seoul from 4 p.m, covering a 1.5-kilometer stretch from Namdaemun to Gwanghwamun. Roads between these two landmarks will remain closed from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m.

While some streets are expected to reopen by 4:40 p.m., others could be closed until the next morning, according to the police.

Given that the parade is taking place in the run-up to the Chuseok holiday period, drivers are advised to detour or use public transport to avoid congestion. The city plans to deploy 1,000 police officers to manage traffic and increase the frequency of subway trains to accommodate commuters.

Historically, Seoul had conducted military parades every five years since 1998. However, in an effort to thaw relations with North Korea, the liberal Moon Jae-in administration scaled down the 2018 parade to an air show.

This year's display, featuring 6,700 service members, will showcase South Korea’s advanced domestic weaponry, including KF-21 fighter jets, Light Armed Helicopters, and long-range surface-to-air missiles, a move widely seen as a show-of-force against North Korea's continued provocations.