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Moon highlights peace through strength on Armed Forces Day

President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday stressed the need for strong defense capabilities at the 71st Armed Forces Day celebrations.

“Peace is not something that is defended, but created. Our military’s iron-clad security supports dialogue and cooperation, and enabled (the country) to boldly walk toward permanent peace,” Moon said.

He went on to list achievements such as the removal of guard posts from the Demilitarized Zone, the recovery of the remains of Korean War dead and the inter-Korean military agreement, crediting the South Korean military for making them possible.

Moon also touched on his recent visit to the UN General Assembly, saying the military’s readiness enabled him to make the proposals he made in New York. At the UN General Assembly, Moon proposed establishing the DMZ as an “international peace zone.”

President Moon Jae-in inspects F-35A fighter jets at the Armed Forces Day event in Daegu on Tuesday. Yonhap
President Moon Jae-in inspects F-35A fighter jets at the Armed Forces Day event in Daegu on Tuesday. Yonhap

Apparently wanting to highlight South Korea’s initiative to strengthen its defense capabilities, the military revealed its new F-35A fighter jets to the public for the first time.

South Korea currently has four F-35A jets, which have been the subject of vehement criticism from North Korea, with an additional nine units to be incorporated into the Air Force by the end of the year. The country is also reviewing the option of purchasing 20 more F-35A jets.

Moon arrived at the 11th Fighter Wing base in Daegu aboard the locally developed helicopter the KUH-1 Surion, a move designed to highlight advances in the country’s defense technologies.

While saying the military has fulfilled its role from the time of the armed independence movement -- which Moon described as the root of South Korea’s military -- to deterring war on the Korean Peninsula, Moon also said innovation is the key to defense in the future.

“As displayed by the power of the drone attacks in the Middle East, the challenges we will face in the future will take diverse forms that are different from the past,” Moon said.

Moon said future warfare will be against “all forces that threaten and infringe” on the country and its people, and went on to highlight his administration’s measures to improve the military’s capabilities.

Saying one of his administration’s core goals is to carry out a plan called “Defense Reform 2.0,” Moon emphasized the measures underway to strengthen South Korea’s defense capabilities.

Moon mentioned the increase in the defense budget under his administration, saying it would help the country acquire state-of-the-art defense systems such as military satellites and missile defense systems.

The defense budget has steadily increased since Moon took office, and the figure for next year has been set at over 50 trillion won ($41.7 billion) for the first time. A large portion of the budget has been allocated to improving defense capabilities, with another 16.7 trillion won earmarked for related projects next year.

By Choi He-suk (