For the first time, South Korea has revealed to the public designs of its new missiles build to bolster the country’s defence capacity to keep North Korea at bay.
The two new designs – the ballistic Hyeonmu-2, with a range of 300 km and the Hyeonmu-3, a cruise missile capable to hit targets more than 1,000 km away – have been put on public display in a rare event during a South Korean military parade.
Both defence systems, developed in South Korea, have previously been tested, as a response to North Korea breaching international sanctions conducting the third nuclear test in February this year, only three months after launching a long-range rocket delivering a satellite into orbit.
"We must build a strong anti-North deterrence until the day the North drops its nuclear arms and makes the right choice for its people and for peace on the Korean peninsula," South Korean President Park Geun-hye said at the parade marking the founding of the South's armed forces 65 years ago.
Despise North Korea’s claims its successful attempt to launch a rocket to space in December last year was a purely peaceful venture, the world has largely seen as a test of the long-range missile technology. The launch and the February nuclear test prompted UN strengthen sanctions aimed at stopping the North's arms development and trade. The sanctions angered the North and it responded with threats of a nuclear strike on South Korea and the United States.
Although a rather poor country, North Korea has been investing heavily into the development of weapons of mass destruction.
Last year, South Korea has reached an agreement with the United States allowing it to extend the range of its missiles to better counter the threat from the North. The deal grants South Korea the permission to develop ballistic missiles with a range of up to 800 km.
However, unlike North Korea, South rarely organises large military parades. This week’s event was the biggest such event in 10 years.
Watching the parade was US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel who is currently on a four-day visit in the region.