This article will examine the major weapons systems used by the South Korean and North Korean military. The types and models shown below are examples only and do not belong only to any one particular army.


South Korean Army

The South Korean Army relies heavily on its self-developed 5.56 mm automatic rifle series, the K2. These firearms are inspired by the design of the American M16 automatic rifle and may use NATO-issued ammunition. They’re just as reliable and effective as the M16 series, but with a 30-round magazine.

K2 Assault rifle

The K5 9mm semi-automatic pistol the South Korean Army developed in-house is the service pistol of choice. The K5 uses 9mm Parabellum ammo, modeled after the American Smith & Wesson M59 semi-automatic pistol. It can fire accurately up to 50 yards away and comes with either a 15-round or 13-round double-row magazine.

Daewoo K3 machine gun

Daewoo K3 machine guns, made in South Korea and modeled after the Belgian FN MINIMI, are the standard issue machine guns in the country. It uses NATO standard 5.56x45mm ammunition and can contain 100 or 200 rounds. It has a theoretical rate of fire of 700 to 1000 rounds per minute, an effective range of roughly 600 meters, and is compatible with 30-round rifle magazines.

k14 sniper rifle

The K14 is a bolt-action sniper rifle created by the South Korean Army with cutting-edge features. It has a floating barrel and is constructed from plastic and composite materials in a modular form. This rifle has a range of 800 meters and uses 7.62x51mm NATO ammo. It’s adaptable to a wide range of battlefield conditions because to its ability to house night vision goggles and electronic sights.

North Korean Army

The Type 88 rifles, greatly influenced by the AK-74 of the Soviet Union, are widely used by the North Korean Army. These rifles typically employ 30-round metal magazines and shoot 5.4539mm M74 rifle ammunition. Like the Russian PP19 “Bison” submachine gun, the Type 88 series also contains variants for special forces that use a roll-type ammunition supply.

Type 88 North Korean Rifles

The “Paektu” family of North Korean pistols is modeled after the Czech CZ75 semi-automatic pistol. They fire 9x19mm Parabellum rounds and contain a 15-round magazine. The “Paektu” made in North Korea is not as well made as the original CZ75.

The 73-type light machine gun is the standard issue machine gun for the North Korean Army. It employs 30-round arc magazines and 7.6254mm Soviet-made ammunition, effective up to 800 meters, and was inspired by the ZB26 and the PKM of the Soviet Union.

M76 sniper rifle

North Korea is far behind other countries in terms of sniper technology, with just the Type 78 sniper rifle to offer. Although it takes inspiration from the Yugoslav M76 sniper rifle, it maintains the same basic design as the Soviet AK-47. It is a semiautomatic weapon with a range of around 800 meters, uses 7.6254mm ammunition, and has a 10-round detachable magazine.

MBT and Armored Vehicle 

South Korean Army

The K2 “Black Panther” main battle tank is the workhorse of the South Korean Army’s armored force. It has a phenomenal rate of fire of 15 rounds per minute thanks to its German-made L55 caliber 120 mm smoothbore gun with an automatic loading mechanism.

K2 Black Panther
K2 Black Panther

 In some versions, it also has a remote-controlled 12.7 mm machine gun station and a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun. It has a diesel engine producing 1,500 horsepower, allowing it to go 70 kilometers per hour on paved roads and 48 kilometers per hour in off-road conditions. It is 7.5 meters long, 2.5 meters tall, and 3.6 meters wide, weighing 55 tons.

The K21 tracked infantry combat vehicles are designed to work in tandem with the main battle tank, each armed with a 40mm cannon capable of firing roughly 300 rounds per minute. These vehicles can be armed with anti-tank or surface-to-air missiles, demonstrating their adaptability. They can carry up to 9 soldiers, have a top speed of 70 kilometers per hour, and are powered by a V10 diesel engine producing 840 horsepower.

North Korean Army 

Conversely, the Songjun 915 series, which is based on the T-72 frame, is still the mainstay battle tank for the North Korean Army. It has an anti-aircraft machine gun, a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun, and missiles in addition to its 125mm smoothbore gun. The North Korean premier tank is a formidable weapon at 44 tons of combat weight.

The M2013  tracked infantry fighting vehicle is North Korea’s newest and most advanced infantry fighting vehicle, with improved air defense capabilities. It can carry up to 10 soldiers and is amphibious, with twin anti-aircraft machine guns measuring 14.5 mm and removable anti-aircraft missiles.


South Korean Army

The 155mm 52-caliber howitzer installed on a tracked armored chassis makes the K9 self-propelled howitzer the workhorse of the South Korean Army’s artillery unit. It has a top speed of 65 kilometers per hour and can carry up to 46.3 tons of cargo with its 1,000 horsepower engine. The range of this cutting-edge device is up to 50 kilometers when using rockets, and it can be as high as 30 kilometers when using conventional shells.

North Korean Army

The M2018 152mm self-propelled howitzer is integral to the North Korean Army’s artillery arsenal. The chassis is similar to that of contemporary self-propelled howitzers, and it is equipped with a Soviet-made towed 152mm howitzer. North Korea also has a wide selection of rocket launchers, from 100mm to 300mm, mounted on armored vehicles.


The South Korean and North Korean armies possess distinctive main battle equipment, with the South Korean side leaning towards American-inspired designs and the North Korean side adopting Soviet-inspired models. This equipment landscape has evolved through unique historical influences, leading to notable differences in design, capabilities, and overall effectiveness. As both nations continue to navigate complex geopolitical challenges, their choices in weaponry remain pivotal in shaping their military strategies and defense capabilities.