In October, North Korea unveiled new military hardware in a parade marking the 75th anniversary of the Workers’ Party of Korea.

The biggest attention-grabbers were, unsurprisingly, the missiles, especially the Pukguksong-4 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), and the Hwasong-16, which, if real, would be the largest liquid-fueled and road-mobile missile ever made.

But before those missiles appeared at the end of the parade, North Korea’s impressive modernization of its conventional forces was on full display.

North Korea weapons
North Korea Pukguksong-4 submarine-launched ballistic missile on parade, October 10, 2020. (KCNA via Business Insider)

Soldiers were seen wearing modern uniforms with new camouflage patterns, ballistic helmets, vests, and even touch-screen devices. They were also seen parading in full nuclear, biological, and chemical gear for the first time. New vehicles designed almost entirely from scratch also debuted.

Chun In-bum, a former lieutenant general in the South Korean army, described the parade as “literally a ‘new look’ for the North Korean People’s Army (KPA) in almost every way.”

The parade undoubtedly shows that North Korea’s commitment to military modernization is bearing fruit, but it remains unclear just how far that modernization has gone.

New Armored Vehicles on display
North Korean armored combat vehicles mounted with what appears to be a howitzer, during a parade on October 10, 2020. (KCNA)

New Armored Vehicles

Aside from the missiles, the new armored vehicles received the most attention.

North Korea’s armored force has long consisted of old Soviet models or slightly modified domestic copies. But a completely new armored combat vehicle and a new tank show that North Korea’s armored force is headed in a new direction.