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These Are the Reasons to Never Fight Another War With North Korea

Kyle Mizokami

Security, Asia


1 million soldiers and lots of nukes.

Key Point: Pyongyang doesn't have the money or equipment to maintain its old tanks and artillery. However, North Korea does have a large military and is pouring its funds into nuclear weapons.

Infantry weapons have long been a pillar of the North Korean People’s Army, or KPA for short. The KPA that invaded South Korea was largely an infantry army, and despite significant mechanization in the 1970s the foundation of the army has been its infantry forces. Today, the bulk of the KPA’s 1.1 million army is infantry, with approximately 200,000 light infantry and special forces.

After the Korean War, North Korea followed the Soviet Union’s lead in infantry weapons. The oldest gun still in service is the KPA Type 58 assault rifle. A clone of the Soviet AK-47, the Type 58 was produced in two factories, #61 and #65 located near Chongjin, between 1958 and 1968. The Type 58 was a basic AK-pattern rifle with a 30 round magazine and a rate of fire of up to 650 rounds per minute. Approximately 800,000 rifles were produced, and while the 7.62-millimeter assault rifle is no longer in service with frontline units it allegedly still equips reserve units and militia.

A new rifle, the Type 68, was a clone of the Soviet AKM assault rifle and manufactured beginning in 1968. In practical terms the Type 68 had few major improvements over the Type 58, although it did come with a folding stock. The Type 68 was also extensively exported abroad, to El Salvadoran Marxist guerrillas and across Central and South America. These rifles are also likely still in service with reservists and rear-area units, as North Korea is undoubtedly still sitting on a considerable supply of 7.62 rifle ammunition.

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