N. Korea’s “nuclear backpacks” appear on $850 oil paintings

Painting made one month after debut of nuclear backpacks at Victory Day parade in July
October 25th, 2013

Oil paintings of North Korean soldiers carrying “nuclear backpacks” have appeared for sale at a Pyongyang arts and souvenir shop, pictures released Friday by Koryo Tours have shown.

The paintings, which portray a North Korean soldier carrying a “nuclear backpack,” cost $850 USD and were painted in August 2013 – according to photographer and Koryo Tours’ guide Simon Cockerell.

In July North Korea piqued the attention of military specialists worldwide after a platoon of soldiers appeared at a 65th anniversary “Victory Day” parade carrying packs covered with large radiological signs.

The radiological imagery led to speculation in South Korean media that the packs might be miniaturized nuclear weapons, a claim that was quickly rejected by North Korea military expert Joseph Bermudez Jr.

“The backpacks are far too small for atomic demolition munitions (ADMs),” Bermudez told NK News in August, after studying close up imagery obtained by this site from  Pyongyang.

“In reality, it is likely that they are simply stuffed with paper or rags,” Bermudez said.


“Nuclear backpacks” seen at Victory Day celebrations in Pyongyang | Picture: NK News

Although North Korea does possess a wide variety of military equipment, it has been suspected of parading false equipment in the past. In this year’s “Victory Parade” North Korea also displayed non-existent military variant transporter aircraft and a missile type that has reportedly never flown – the KN-08.

North Korea often depicts its military capabilities, real and exaggerated, in domestic propaganda, including in paintings, murals, and movies.

Cockerell snapped the picture at the Wolyhyang shop near the Arch of Triumph in downtown Pyongyang.

Picture taken by Simon Cockerell, Koryo Tours. Follow Simon on Instagram for more photos from Pyongyang.


Picture: S. Cockerell, Koryo Tours

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About the Author

Chad O'Carroll

Chad O'Carroll has written on North Korea since 2010 and writes between London and Seoul.