South Korean President Park Geun-hye vowed to boost her country's defenses against the North, as she attended Seoul's largest military parade in a decade Tuesday.
President Park said South Korea has no choice but to 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."
Over 11,000 troops and 120 aircraft and took part in the televised Armed Forces Day ceremony at a military base south of the capital. The parade was later repeated in downtown Seoul.
At the parade, the Hyunmu-3, a domestically built cruise missile with a range of 1,000 kilometers, was displayed for the first time. The precision-guided weapon was first unveiled after the North's third nuclear test in February.
The nuclear test set off months of dramatically heightened tensions, with the North eventually issuing near daily threats of nuclear war against Washington and Seoul. Inter-Korean ties have only recently recovered.
Among those in attendance at the parade Tuesday was U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who is on a four-day visit to South Korea to demonstrate Washington's defense alliance with Seoul.
Hagel visited the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea Monday, accompanied by his South Korea counterpart Kim Kwan-jin. He also met with President Park.
The U.S. defense chief is in South Korea to discuss extending America's wartime control and command of South Korea forces, as well as the 28,000 U.S troops deployed to the country. South Korea is scheduled to take over full command in 2015.