BIZARRE photos smuggled from North Korea reveal an exhausted army relying on World War II trucks, and fake guns.
As the North Korean leader continues to ratchet up his rhetoric with US President Donald Trump amid heightened fears of a nuclear war on the Korean peninsula, these revealing snaps show a different side of the story.
The pictures, taken between Mount Kumgang and the city of Wonsan on North Korea’s east coast, show trucks that date back to World War II, dangerously overladen vehicles, female soldiers wearing high heels, fighters who appear to be carrying fake weapons and exhausted troops sleeping by the roadside.
The photographer, who asked not to be identified, said he saw soldiers unprepared for conflict throughout the country including at the border with South Korea.
“We didn’t see many soldiers apart from what you see in my pictures,” he said according to the Daily Mail.
“At DMZ there were of course soldiers but those we saw were all ‘guides’ in one way or another.”
North Korea is very protective about pictures taken by visitors and photos are often deleted or cameras taken when travellers depart the reclusive state.
However these pictures were saved on a camera with two memory cards, which meant deleted photos were backed up.
But the photographer said he didn’t have to worry about that because his guides were “very liberal” and never inspected his photos.
“I read a lot on the internet about the guides looking through your camera every day and even some times when you leave the country,’ he said.
“So I bought a camera with twin memory card bays, so even if I had to delete a picture I had one left ... but my guides were very liberal and never inspected my photos.”
But the appearance of the new images contrasts with the seriousness of a warning that has been issued about a possible new strategy Kim’s regime may be adopting.
North Korea is suspected of producing biological weapons to unleash against enemy troops and civilians — including by fake janitors lugging backpack sprayers containing deadly pathogens, according to a report.
“North Korea is likely to use biological weapons before or at the beginning of a conflict to disrupt society and create panic, incapacitate societies, and/or cause a significant military diversion,” according to the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School.
New York Post reports that Kim Jung-un’s regime plans to spread the pathogens through various means such as missiles, drones, aircraft and even portable sprayers.
“It is theoretically possible that North Korean sleeper agents disguised as cleaning and disinfection personnel could disperse (biological weapons) agents with backpack sprayers,” the report said.
The biological weapons also may be unleashed by the 200,000 special-forces troops, the Korea Herald reported.
The Belfer Center says the hermit kingdom is producing the biological weapons in facilities disguised as agricultural research labs.
“It is likely that anthrax and smallpox is already used as a biological weapon,” the report said. “North Korean soldiers are vaccinated against smallpox, and so are US Army (personnel) stationed in South Korea — against smallpox and anthrax.”
North Korea has 13 types of biological agents that it can weaponize within 10 days, according to the report, which cites a 2015 South Korean Defence Ministry parliamentary audit.
Anthrax and smallpox are the likely agents it would deploy “in bioterrorism or in an all-out war,” according to the report. Others pathogens include the plague, cholera and botulism.
“Agents like anthrax could cause mass casualties with a small amount: only a few kilograms of anthrax, equivalent to a few bottles of wine, released into a dense city could kill 50 per cent of the population,” the report said.
“If used on a large scale, these weapons can cause not only tens of thousands of deaths, but also create panic and paralyse societies.”
It is not known whether North Korea has the capability of weaponizing all 13 types of agents, the researchers said.
The report added that the difficulty in verifying North Korea’s capabilities arises in part from the mixed use of the equipment and facilities in creating the weapons.
“While nuclear programs can be monitored by the number of nuclear tests and the success of missile tests, weaponizing and cultivating pathogens can stay invisible behind closed doors,” the authors said.
“Moreover, equipment used for (biological weapons) production are often dual-use for agriculture, making external monitoring and verification virtually impossible.”