North Korea is flexing its military muscles again this week, but a closer look at images of the Hermit Kingdom’s soldiers reveals that the fighting force may be better suited for propaganda than actual battle.
On Tuesday, the South Korean military reportedly confirmed that Pyongyang was conducting a massive live-fire artillery drill. A top North Korean official warned that a “brutal punishment” awaits the so-called “warmongers” in the U.S. and elsewhere. The bluster is not new, but this time, it is compounded by rising international tensions.
North Korea typically puts on its more headline-grabbing displays to mark some sort of anniversary, and Tuesday was no exception. The artillery drills come on the 85th anniversary of the founding of the nation’s military. Less than two weeks ago, North Korea mounted both a failed ballistic missile test and a large military parade to mark the 105th birthday of the country’s founder, Kim Il-sung.
North Korea put a variety of new missiles on display during the April 15 parade, and while at least one of them was reportedly a prototype, some experts thought they spotted actual “fakes.” A closer look at some of the soldiers in that parade suggests those missiles may not have been the only things that weren’t quite battle ready.
“This was more about sending a message than being combat effective,” said Michael Pregent, a former Army Intelligence Officer with over 28 years of experience working conflicts around the world and now an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C.
Pregent took a look at several photos of North Korean soldiers from the April 15 parade and immediately began poking holes in them. Below are some of the takeaways he shared with Fox’s Investigative Unit.
Commandos or caricatures?
Some of the most memorable images to emerge from North Korea’s dramatic parade featured the special operations “commandos” who were carrying what appeared to be AK-47’s with grenade-launching capabilities. It turns out that what many people believed to be grenade launchers are actually what’s known as “helical” magazines, a piece of equipment that organizes rounds in a spiral shape to maximize capacity and that is notorious for jamming, according to Pregent.
Pregent adds that not only do these types of magazines have a high-failure…