With a blinding yellow flash and a concussion that shakes bones, K9 self-propelled howitzers launch artillery shells onto a hill that’s just been hit by rockets fired from helicopters. Then K2 tanks roar in, speeding up roads and firing as they go.
This is part of DX Korea, a four-day South Korean defence expo held in September at a firing range in Pocheon, about 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) from the North Korean border.
The display – presented to a crowd of 2,000 people including military officials from more than two dozen countries – is one way South Korea sells weapons.
And President Yoon Suk Yeol wants to sell more of them – enough for Seoul to jump four places up the ranks to become the world’s fourth-biggest arms exporter.
“By entering the world’s top four defence exporters after the United States, Russia and France, the (South Korean) defence industry will become a strategic industrialization and a defence powerhouse,” Yoon said.
To do that, South Korea will have to outsell – in ascending order – the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany and finally China, which held 4.6% of the export market in the 2017-2021 period, according to the authoritative Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
That’s no easy task, yet Seoul is already well on its way. From 2012 to 2016, it had just 1% of the global market. It more than doubled that in the following five-year period, capturing 2.8% – by far the largest increase among any of the world’s top 25 arms exporters.
In 2021, it sold $7 billion worth of weapons overseas, according to the Export-Import Bank of Korea.
And the South Korean defenccccce industry believes it has the arsenal to grab an even bigger slice of the pie.
This is an excerpt from an article published by CNN – visit CNN website to read the full version.