South Korea parades military power to warn North

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STORY: Thousands of South Korean troops marched through central Seoul in the country’s first large-scale display of military might in a decade.

The parade marked Armed Forces Day with attack aircraft, drones and tanks, as well as ballistic and defense missiles on show .

The full-day event is a deviation from the traditionally muted occasion. Instead a message directed at their Northern neighbors.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol fired a warning shot at Pyongyang as he addressed troops at Seoul Air Base.

"If North Korea provokes, the (South Korean) military will immediately retribute based on practical combat capabilities and firm military readiness. If North Korea uses nuclear weapons, its regime will be brought to an end by an overwhelming response from the ROK-U.S. alliance."

Hundreds braved the rain in the city’s main business district to glimpse the one mile long procession of artillery.

It was the first street parade since 2013 and a demonstration was held by activists nearby denouncing the display for fanning tensions between the two countries.

But the bravado has become a cornerstone of President Yoon’s hawkish stance on the North since taking office last year.

"Despite repeated warnings for decades from the international society, North Korea has been advancing their nuclear and missile capabilities, and even openly threatening nuclear use. These are existential threats to people of the Republic of Korea and also a significant challenge to world peace."

After Kim Jong Un’s recent visit to Russia, Yoon has stated any enhancement of North Korea’s weapons programme by the Kremlin would be a ‘’direct provocation’’.

President Yoon has meanwhile actively strengthened military relationships with Washington and Tokyo.