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North Korea military growing more powerful, survey shows

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korea has been boosting its military as Kim Jong Un continues to consolidate his power. File Photo by How Hwee Young/EPA
North Korea has been boosting its military as Kim Jong Un continues to consolidate his power. File Photo by How Hwee Young/EPA

May 11 (UPI) -- North Korea's military manpower has been growing but remains well below South Korea, which ranked 11th in the world, according to an annual ranking of the world's armed forces.

Global Firepower released its annual ranking of the world's armed forces on Wednesday, showing Seoul's army could easily overpower North Korea's People's Army in the event of a conflict.

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Pyongyang's military, with a prominent role in defending the Kim Jong Un regime, ranked 23rd most powerful in the world, ranking directly below Australia but above Canada and Saudi Arabia.

That figure, however, reflects an improvement over 2016 rankings, when North Korea's military strength ranked 25th.

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North Korea ranked 35th as recently as 2014, but as Kim continued to consolidate his power the military has been building its units, recruiting more soldiers and developing its arsenal of weapons.

South Korea's manpower has been falling in recent years.

Seoul's military ranked seventh in 2015, but based on the number and range of weapons, geographical considerations, logistics, natural resources, industry and manpower, Seoul fell four positions in 2016, and has stayed at 11th place in 2017, according to the survey.

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On GFP's index, South Korea military power improved marginally year-on-year, falling to 0.2804 from 0.2824 in 2016.

On the index, militaries are scored on their ability to efficiently deploy technological advancements. The lower the score a military receives, the higher its rank, according to GPF.

"This allows smaller, though more technologically advanced nations to compete with larger, lesser developed ones," GPF states.

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The United States maintained the No. 1 position it occupied in 2016, and was followed by Russia, China and India.

Japan stayed at No. 7.

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