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Despite having one of the smallest economies in the world, North Korea appears to be among the most belligerent when it comes to military confrontations.
Not that it has actually been involved in any major engagements since the 1950-53 Korean War, but it has openly expressed hostilities against South Korea and the US, and has been responsible for several military provocations.
Moored along a canal in the communist state's capital of Pyongyang is the USS Pueblo, the ill-fated vessel belonging to the US Navy that was attacked and captured by North Korean forces in 1968. What came to be known as the "Pueblo Incident" raised tensions between powers during the Cold War.
Although Pueblo is currently being used as a museum ship at the Victorious War Museum of North Korea, it officially remains a commissioned vessel of the US Navy, the only ship on its roster currently held captive.
With the fall of the Iron Curtain also came the decline of North Korea's overall prowess as a state, but it has stubbornly maintained the size of its military. The country currently is estimated to have 1.28 million active soldiers, over twice as many as the 555,000 of the South, according to the most recent defense white paper by the South Korean Ministry of National Defense.
North Korea has one of the largest militaries in the world despite its population of 25 million, but is far from one of the strongest. The aforementioned white paper assessed that most of the warships, jets, tanks and other equipment of the North are antiquated and outmatched by those owned by South Korea.
Limited by its lack of resources and allies, North Korea has been focusing instead on its nuclear and missile programs. While the state is widely assessed to possess nuclear weapons as it claims, it is not officially recognized as a nuclear weapons state by the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, as Pyongyang withdrew from the NPT in 2003.
North Korea is run under the dictatorial leadership of the Kim family, which last saw a power succession for the third generation to incumbent Kim Jong-un about a decade ago. The three generations of leaders -- which also include now-deceased North Korean founder Kim Il-sung and his son Kim Jong-il -- are idolized by North Koreans, and damaging their images can lead to prosecution in the country.
It has been reported that North Koreans have a protocol for protecting portraits of their leaders in case of emergencies. The white paper published by the Institute of National Security Strategy says that while North Korean textbooks have extensive content idolizing the Kims, the books do not carry their images of any kind, presumably out of fear that students could doodle on or damage them.