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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Oct. 2)

All Headlines 09:20 October 03, 2018

Low-key anniversary
-No military parade to mark 70th Armed Forces Day-

The 70th Armed Forces Day was celebrated in an unusual way, Monday. There was no military parade, which is usually held every five years. Instead, an indoor celebration was held at night at the War Memorial of Korea in Yongsan with a performance by the YouTube sensation Psy, a taekwondo demonstration and a "Black Eagles" air show.

The absence of a military parade triggered criticism from the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, which saw it as a sign the Moon Jae-in administration was being too careful not to agitate North Korea, and claimed that holding a low-key celebration was bad for the military's morale.

Compared to the past landmark anniversaries such as the 60th Armed Forces Day in 2008, this year's event was rather subdued as there was no large-scale military parade in the heart of Seoul as on previous occasions. Cheong Wa Dae explained the parade was not arranged this year because it would place too much burden on the military to prepare for such an event. But the explanation is not really convincing since it has been done routinely in the past. Most likely, the Moon administration was taking into consideration that North Korea also held a quieter anniversary last month to mark the 70th anniversary of its founding, leaving out its ICBMs during its own military parade.

Even without a parade, the 70 anniversary of the Armed Forces was marked in a memorable way, particularly with the repatriation of 64 South Korean soldiers killed in North Korea during the 1950-53 Korean War at a ceremony presided by President Moon at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province.

It is wrong for the main opposition to politicize the absence of the military parade at a time when the two Koreas are trying to carry on the momentum for peace created by a series of summits between President Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. In the third inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang last month, the two leaders agreed to reduce military tension. Against such a background, the subdued celebration was befitting of the reconciliatory mood between the two Koreas.

During a speech to mark the occasion, Moon lauded the men and women in uniform for their tireless service to the nation over the years and stressed their role in achieving and maintaining peace. "Peace does not come at once," Moon said. "Now it is time for the military to be at the forefront of peace on the Korean Peninsula. Peace through strength is the mission of our military." The President should exert all efforts to make our military a stronger one even as he continues his journey toward peace. At the same time, measures should be implemented to significantly improve working conditions for those serving in the Armed Forces.

sam@yna.co.kr
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