Parades of history

I was originally alerted to the idea of this post by the recent posting of pictures from a parade in Pyongyang in which troops were shown goose stepping with bayonet affixed Model 91/30 rifles and thought to myself, just how bizarre looking it appeared in the modern age, with a comparatively modern army. Then I started looking at more pictures of North Korean parades, and they must either be getting tired of looking at AKs, or have some sort of a need to display everything in their museum armory, because everything from M3 Grease Guns to PPSH41s are on display in some sort of fashion. In addition to all their modern stuff! The whole thing reminds me of a time myself and my uncle visited a military museum in Rangoon, where the front guard had an M2 Carbine and was standing post. My uncle inquired about whether or not the poor guy should put it back in the museum.

Guess the forward thrust position doesn't work too well with the rifle grenade mounted AKs?

Guess the forward thrust position doesn’t work too well with the rifle grenade mounted AKs?


And Mosin carbines!

And Mosin carbines!



What's an honor guard without bling? On SKSs!

What’s an honor guard without bling? On SKSs!

Nice camouflage there guy, you must be the lead trace?

Nice camouflage there guy, you must be the lead trace?

That has to hurt, no way around it, these guys have to be doing some sort of crazy stretching before and after this thing.

That has to hurt, no way around it, these guys have to be doing some sort of crazy stretching before and after this thing.

M3 Grease Guns! Do they still work? Don't they know we'd buy those up in a heartbeat?

M3 Grease Guns! Do they still work? Don’t they know we’d buy those up in a heartbeat? They must have only had enough for the front rank, the rest got grenades. 

GP30s mounted

GP30s mounted

PPS42s! Put those things back in the museum, rust happens outside, don't you know!

PPS42s! Put those things back in the museum, rust happens outside, don’t you know!


Again! With the chromed guns in the field!

Again! With the chromed guns in the field!


Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I’ve made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at


  • Anon

    What I want yo know is where they’re keeping those helical ak mags

    • Rabies


      • Secundius

        @ Rabies.

        Looks like a Grenade Launcher to me…

    • anon

      where do you see a helical AK mag?

      • Paul Epstein

        It’s not in these pictures, but it’s been seen elsewhere with the ‘honor guard’. Argument remains as to whether they’re real or some sort of fake.

        • Steve Savage

          The north koreans could make a killing selling these helical mags to American gun owners. Who doesn’t want an AK with a 200 round magazine?

  • Vitsaus

    Its very possible that the more outdated guns are simply issued to reserves or local internal security types, rural police, commissars, etc… Why give them the first line infantry stuff when you can arm them with all the old stuff the regular army doesn’t need.

    • J.T.

      Yep. DPRK has the Worker-Peasant Red Guards that are probably equipped with all the old equipment.

      • Steve Savage

        Stuff still works, why not? The North Korean economy doesn’t grow on trees.

    • This is a parade. They wear historical uniforms along with their historical weapons. Look at those mustard uniforms on girls, for example – it’s obvious they’re of the Mao era or somewhere there. It’s traditional to sometimes re-enact older state of your army for patriotic reasons – I think I saw even 19th century reenactments in Russian state parades, doesn’t mean they use sabres.

  • Mr. Kill

    That’s a lot of different uniforms.

    • Bill

      They go around the block and trade off. Like costume changes at Holiday on Ice.

      I bet the quality is on par with the paper “modesty smocks” we give suicidal prisoners so they can’t hang themselves.

    • Steve Savage

      Parades are all about being pretty. The last time people wore bright colors to war was in the 1800s.

  • tony

    I remember watching a Venezuela parade on youtube, one group all carried SA-18s

    • Marco Antonio Gonzalez

      Not historical, they are SA24, IGLA-S

    • Steve Savage

      The Venezuelans keep their stuff modern, they bought a ton of Russian AK-103s. America complained it was a potential threat…not sure why we worry about when another country buys rifles of all things.

      • Marco Antonio Gonzalez

        Sorry for O.T.
        It is not a ton but 100.000 rifles and a factory. The factory is still under construction.
        As far as i can remember the concerns of the American government was more with the caliber of the AK-103 and the acquisition of those IGLA-S. The IGLA is extremely portable and with an increased possibility to reach wrong hands..

  • Muri

    As far as I know this recent parade was to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the party’s founding. The display of old weaponry, equipment and uniforms was therefore kind of an memorial to the Korean War. Note the yellowish uniforms that were issued back then. The only thing missing in this year’s parade were those tacticool light utility vehicles that were put to display in the recent years…

    • Holy crap, tractors…. And I yes I noticed that with the older uniforms, maybe it was a commemoration of some sort, but that doesn’t explain the M3s….

      • Burst

        Given that those few M3s were probably scavenged off GI or SK corpses, I think the message is pretty clear.

        Although it’s lost some of its sting 70 years later.

        • Mark

          The Type 36 was made as a Chinese version of the M3. I imagined Beijing gave some of them as military aid.

          • Burst

            Indeed, that’s probably a more likely origin.

          • Steve Savage

            I’m sure, the M3 was so easy to make it took less time to stamp one out than the time I took to post this message.

      • Tassiebush

        I think they copied or converted the M3 during the war. Trying to remember where I read that though.

      • Muri

        I suppose these Grease Guns were simply captured from Allied forces during the War and put into display during this parade for propaganda reasons. I can’t think of other options.

        It would be interesting if somebody would one day post here on TFB some photos of the Pyongyang War museum. I can imagine there must some other captured stuff too.

    • Bill

      Those are Tactical Operator Tractors. I have one myself, a Kubota with a beard, tribal tats and Oakleys for headlights which are infrared so I can plow covertly at night wearing NVGs. Instead of a muffler it has a suppressor. The throttle goes from Tier 3 to Tier 1. I painted it MutiCam and now I can’t find it in the field.

  • Lance

    Like the North Korean AKM clones and there AKS-74 clone is nice. As for Chrome on field weapons. this is North Korea where logic always is missing and everything is built on suicide mas attack.

    • Steve Savage

      Who doesn’t want a gold plated AK-74?

  • TVOrZ6dw

    The M3 grease guns have to work. The design is so simple that unless it’s welded in place it will work. Hit your target on purpose? Probably not…

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    The middle girl with the off angle PPS 42 is probably no longer with us.

    • Bill

      A lot of the “girls” with the Mosins look like they may, um, have East German Female Olympian Syndrome. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Wait, yes there is.

      • Bob

        I noticed that…

      • Doom

        IT’S A MAN BABY!

  • Guy

    All those Mosins are pointed at Seoul- as soon as war breaks out they’ll level the city from afar.

  • Guy

    Can we liberate N.Korea solely for their historical weaponry? I volunteer to drop into Pyongyang. Do they have FedEx?

    • Just say’n

      Not sure what would be more impossible. Getting the weapons out of North Korea, or getting the current administration to CMP them to us.

      • SP mclaughlin

        You missed some sarcasm.
        Just say’n

    • mikewest007

      I don’t know, but one night I had a dream about Charlie Sheen and Chuck Norris jumping from a plane to liberate North Korea, so that looks like a sound plan. 😛

  • lbrty2112

    My god! A milsurp fans dream come true. If only they’d dump these things on the market.

  • Not that I’m aware of–

  • KestrelBike

    Their marching is so crisp. Compared to the Russian annual parades, the NK’s are extremely precise, especially with their quick goose-step.

    • Bill

      Actually, I was thinking just the opposite: it looks great on video, but when you see stills you notice little things out of place. I’m guessing that whoever screws up goes to the front line of the human wave. The women better be careful, don’t want the capitalist pigdogs to get any impromptu upskirts, though I have no clue as to what passes for The People’s Lingerie or how efficient the Bureau of Lady Workers Sacred Lily Feminine Hygiene is. I think Li’l Kim’s dad had his hookers imported from, you know, civilization.

    • Vizzini

      No living North Korean troops have ever engaged in combat. Probably all these men and women know how to do is synchronized marching.

      I wager if a war started, it would be the Iraq invasion all over again, the entire army crumbling nearly instantly.

      It’s been an awful long time since the Korean war.

      • Bill

        Seriously, you think? I thought PRK doctrine was to have officers in the back of the ranks with their own pistols providing “moto” and “field remediation” for those who weren’t charging fast enough. When you’ve got a billion starving conscripts you can probably adopt the “form a line and advance” model of tactics, which I think we abandoned somewhere around 1864.

        Nice medals – maybe instead of Good Conduct or Thanks for Showing Up medals they get them for Not-Bad-Bourgeoisie-Citizen, marching and wearing blouses and ties in freaking hot weather. Sweating is not the Party Way.

        • Vizzini

          I figure once they start dying en masse from enemies they can’t even see, the guns behind them will look less threatening than the guns in front of them.

  • Bill

    Girls in boots can be kinda hot, but I sense cankles.

    • John Doe

      ThisThis…sooo this.

  • Steven Smith

    Love the PPSh’s. Amazing they have them in such good condition.

  • Mc Cain

    I think they won “goose steppers of the year” award, for sure.

  • Southpaw89

    Is that a bayonet on my shoulder or are you happy to see me?

  • Kivaari

    It was announced in the “regular press” that is was for the end of WW2. The 70th anniversary of the Korean War will happen after 1953 in 2023.

  • SirOliverHumperdink

    I wonder if they had ammo / loaded.

  • Bob

    You know though, if you’re hard pressed and have more people than you have modern weapons, it’s not like you have anything to lose by giving a bunch of irregulars WW2 weapons. A crapload of guys firing a bunch of Mosins in your general direction is no laughing matter. You could wind up just as dead as being shot with a modern AK74 or whatever it is they have…

  • Steve Savage

    The Russians do this, too, the May Day Parade has some of them dressed as Soviet Soldiers and carrying USSR flags as an homage to WWII. Scares the heck out of Americans for some reason, the Red Scare is back!

    • Simcha M.

      What you say is correct, Steve.
      However, there is a more sinister reason behind this. After the fall of The Wall (The Berlin Wall, not the Pink Floyd Wall), there has been a very vigorous government-sponsored revival of the Cult of Stalin. I think Putin sees himself as the Stalin of the 21st Century, intent on regaining the Soviet Empire. Scary stuff, da, tovarish??

  • I don’t think you should act so surprised, or this is just for show? ) This is reenactment, they bring various historic weapons along with historic uniforms. Not to mention various ceremonial duties, which are traditional to have with historical weapons.

    What would you say if you saw a Hussar regiment column marching in a parade – “umm do they use these claymore anymore?”. I’m not sure, but I think there was a whole history lesson put into the 70 years of Victory over Nazism parade in Moscow. In any case, showing at least one authentic WWII era column is traditional anyway.

  • Secundius

    To me it looks like “Widow Dressing”. I wonder it the Weapons shown Actually Work. One actually looks like a Bren Gun or a Japanese Type 99 LMG…

  • LetsTryLibertyAgain

    I’ve always thought the North Korean version of goose stepping looked gay… not that there’s anything wrong with that. Communism even manages to make Chicks With Guns decidedly NOT HOT.

  • buzzman1

    Hey the Israelis still have M-2 Carbines in use,

  • CavScout

    National gov’s conduct these parades because they need to. More bark than bite, uinlike the only current world super power.