North Korea is prepping to celebrate another important cultural event that may raise eyebrows across the nation. On Tuesday, April 25, the reclusive North Korea will mark the 85th-anniversary of its Korean People’s Army. Neighboring South Korea is bracing for possible provocations from the North, top officials were informed on Thursday by South Korea’s acting president Hwang Kyo-ahn.
“Although North Korea attempted a missile launch but failed on April 16, considering the April 25 anniversary of the Korean People’s Army, there are concerns that it can make another provocation again at any time.”
There is a major concern that North Korea will use the next major celebration to show off its strength.
— KoreanPeninsulaNews (@KoreanWarNews) April 19, 2017
More recently, North Korea stunned the nation when state television aired chilling footage of the United States being hit by a nuclear bomb in a World War 3 simulation during their Day of the Sun festival. Thousands of North Koreans sat hypnotized in a grand theater while watching massive ballistic missiles crash into a U.S. city as flames engulf America.
The eerie performance ended with the people roaring in unison, overwhelmed with emotion as a giant fiery mushroom cloud washed over the United States.
On April 15, many around the world watched as Pyongyang displayed their latest Intercontinental Ballistic Missile’s (ICBMs) and submarine-based missiles during their 2017 military parade.
Melissa Hanha, a Senior research associate at the U.S.-based Middlebury Institute of International Studies, said Canister launchers mounted on the back of trucks indicate Pyongyang is working towards a “new concept” of ICBM.
“However, North Korea has a habit of showing off new concepts in parades before they ever test or launch them… It is still early days for these missile designs.”
The True Strength Of North Korean People’s Army
North Korea’s “Military First” has been the national motto for generations. North Korea has a population of 25 million — which is half of South Korea. Nonetheless, North Korea has more than 1.2 million active soldiers, according to CNN. The country has a further 7.7 million in reserve, making North Korea’s ground force one of the largest in the world.
North Korean troops are bolstered by 200,000 highly-trained paramilitary soldiers, so regarding pure numbers, North Korea has an immediate advantage.
However, the army is also the nation’s biggest employer. North Korean soldiers who reside outside of the paramilitary are both often underfed and underpaid, according to CNN. Therefore, malnourishment has made them far smaller than South Korean fighters. There have also been reports of soldiers running black market operations on the side to supplement their small income.
“The army is also the impoverished nation’s biggest employer and despite their preferential access to resources, North Korean soldiers outside of the paramilitary are underpaid and often underfed.”
Pyongyang has poured huge resources into developing its nuclear and missile arsenals.The inflexibility of force and lack of leadership and motivation among armies of totalitarian regimes may weaken the strength of the Korea’s Peoples Army, James Hardy, Asia Pacific editor of IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly told CNN in 2015.
“And so yes, they have more numbers, but what are they fighting for?” Hardy asked. “There’s an argument going on at the moment that the South Koreans have an awful lot to fight for with the way they have built their country up over the past 70 years from poverty to one of the world’s big economies. What’s your average soldier in North Korea defending?”
North Korea’s vice-foreign minister told BBC News that Pyongyang would continue to test missiles and would launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike if the country thought the U.S. was planning an attack.
U.S. and South Korean officials have said for weeks that North Korea could soon stage another nuclear test in violation of United Nations sanctions, something both the U.S. and China have adamantly warned against.
China is very much the economic lifeline to North Korea so, while nothing is easy, if they want to solve the North Korean problem, they will
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 21, 2017
According to the Indian Express, North Korea is working hard on its cyber warfare capabilities, which is another military tactic. The country is also believed to have a growing number of drones.
North Korea’s Nuclear Capabilities Are Unknown
North Korea says it has conducted five successful nuclear tests in the years of 2006, 2009, 2013, and in January and September 2016, according to BBC.
According to the New York Times, the North has shown themselves to be strategic in pacing its nuclear tests. This allows time for bomb creators to conduct a thorough and detailed analysis of the blasts and learn from mistakes. Siegfried S. Hecker, a Stanford professor who once directed the Los Alamos weapons laboratory in New Mexico, the birthplace of the atomic bomb.
“They’ve done five tests in 10 years… You can learn a lot in that time.”
New nuclear testing by Pyongyang is of a concern due to the large concentration of military hardware amassed on both sides of the border.
“It is a situation where a lot of exercise equipment is amassed in North Korea and also a lot of strategic assets are situated on the Korean peninsula because of the South Korea-US military drills.”
When North Korea carried out their traditional Day of the Sun festivities, soldiers marched across Kim Il Sung Square during a military parade in Pyongyang to celebrate the 105th anniversary since the birth of the founder of the DPRK, Kim Il-Sung.
The Day of the Sun festivities proceeded with no underground nuclear test by North Korea and no pre-emptive strikes off the deck of the USS Carl Vinson aircraft. On April 16, just hours before Vice President Mike Pence began his visit to Seoul on Sunday, Pyongyang fired off a ballistic missile. The missile seemed to have exploded seconds after it got off the ground.
Lee Duk-haeng added, “We are closely watching the situation and will not be letting our guards down.”
On Thursday, after North Korean state media warned the United States of a “super-mighty preemptive strike,” Trump then praised Chinese efforts to rein in “the menace of North Korea.”
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) April 22, 2017
According to Reuters Africa, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that its military was ready to respond to American aggression.
“Now that we possess mighty nuclear power to protect ourselves from U.S. nuclear threat, we will respond without the slightest hesitation to full-out war with full-out war and to nuclear war with our style of nuclear strike, and we will emerge victor in the final battle with the United States.”
According to US officials, there was a higher-than-usual level of activity by Chinese bombers. This signaled a possible heightened state of readiness by Beijing, North Korea’s sole major ally.
China’s foreign ministry, however, denied reports that bomber aircraft were on a heightened state of alert.
[Featured Image by David Guttenfelder/AP Images]