President Park to attend military parade in Beijing

August 26, 2015
President Park Geun-hye, left, shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping while visiting Beijing to participate the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation on Nov. 10, 2014. (Yonhap)

President Park Geun-hye, left, shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping while visiting Beijing to participate the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation on Nov. 10, 2014. (Yonhap)

By Kang Seung-woo, Jun Ji-hye

President Park Geun-hye will observe a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II on Sept. 3 in Beijing, Cheong Wa Dae said Wednesday.

“Considering friendly and cooperative relations with China, President Park has decided to observe the parade,” presidential spokesman Min Kyung-wook said in a statement.

Min also said that China’s potential role in the peaceful unification of the Korean Peninsula and its contribution to the South’s independence movement against Japanese colonial rule also factored into the decision.

The parade, seen as the highlight of China’s war anniversary events, plans to show off its military strength to the rest of the world, but due to the sensitivity of the issue ― including a potential protest from the United States ― Park did not make the decision until the last minute.

Park’s office announced last Thursday that she would visit China from Sept. 2 to 4, accepting Chinese President Xi Jinping’s invitation to the celebrations, but said they were still in talks about attending the military parade.

Her trip to China has been drawing attention after local media reported that the U.S. government urged her to skip the event ― although Seoul and Washington later denied this.

At the same time, Cheong Wa Dae announced that Park will hold a summit with Xi on the first day of her three-day trip. This will be their sixth bilateral meeting since Park’s inauguration in February 2013.

Even before the decision, there were calls from U.S. experts for Park to separate her visit to Beijing from the military parade.

“How appropriate would it be for a Korean president to be at a military parade that is hosted by the last country to have invaded Korea?” said Evans Revere, senior Director at the Albright Stonebridge Group, in a forum hosted by the Heritage Foundation in Washington, referring to China fighting alongside North Korea during the Korean War.

Earlier in the day, Chinese media made Park’s participation in the parade a fait accompli.

China’s Huanqiu Shibao daily reported that Japan and the Philippines were the only nations that refused to observe the parade among 51 countries to which Beijing sent invitations.

The daily said the other 49 nations have decided to dispatch chief of states, ministerial-level officers or diplomatic delegations.

China’s Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Ming also told a news conference, Tuesday, “Foreign leaders that come to China for the Sept. 3 ceremony will attend all related events,” virtually confirming that the leaders, including Park, will observe the parade.

The situation has become trickier as North Korea, China’s traditional ally, will dispatch Choe Ryong-hae, a high-ranking member of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party, instead of its leader Kim Jong-un, to the event.

Yoon Ji-won, a foreign affairs and national security expert at Pyeongtaek University, argued that there is no need to link the Chinese parade with the Korean War as the event marks China’s part in the allied victory over Japan during World War II.

“Recently, Seoul and Beijing have maintained a mutual strategic cooperative relationship,” she said. “The government needs to consider multilateral aspects as the two nations have held quality diplomatic relations.”

She added that the government must consider its relations with the U.S. and Japan, but a diplomatic policy that focuses on practical benefits rather than diplomatic and political causes is also necessary.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of National Defense said that it was planning to dispatch a military delegation to the ceremony, but whether members will attend the parade has yet to be decided.


  1. C Smith

    August 26, 2015 at 3:28 PM

    President Park’s attendance at the military parade is a huge blow to Japan’s PM Abe who is asking other countries not to attend.
    It means President Park has decided that the vicious war crimes committed against Koreans by the Japanese have not been fully atoned and fully apologized.
    It also means the Republic of Korea vigorously opposes the re-militarization of Japan as encouraged by the USA’s military.

  2. Chapsalduk

    August 26, 2015 at 4:32 PM

    Great comment! Thumbs up!

  3. KIM D. K.

    September 7, 2015 at 5:19 AM

    very good.