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Much of North Korea -- and its armed forces -- has been a mystery to the world since it was formed in 1948. But it's not all secret. Because of the country's penchant for holding military parades and firing test missiles, we've been able to gather a lot of information about the increasingly aggressive nation and its capacity for war.

Here's what we know about North Korea, its military, and its worrisome nuclear program.

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The full force of the North Korean army

There are plenty of heavy machines in the North Korean military. According to a Newsweek analysis, North Korea has 3,500 tanks, 72 submarines, 302 helicopters, 563 combat aircraft and 21,100 pieces of artillery.

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Inspecting the new missiles

North Korea has been making headlines lately thanks to its aggressive ballistic missile tests.

This picture taken on May 14 and released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows the country's leader Kim Jong-Un (third from the right) inspecting a ground-to-ground medium long-range strategic ballistic rocket, called Hwasong-12, at an undisclosed location.

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North Korea's July 4 missile test

On July 4, 2017, North Korea conducted a test launch of its new Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile, seen here in a photo released to news agencies. It flew for approximately 40 minutes before landing in the Sea of Japan.

Though North Korea claims its new weapon can strike "anywhere in the world," the United States Department of Defense says the missile has a theoretical range of roughly 3,400 miles -- barely enough to reach the western coast of Alaska.

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Monitoring the ICBM launch

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, seen here monitoring the July 4, 2017 ICBM launch from an undisclosed location, called the new missile a "gift" to "American bastards."

North Korea does not currently have a nuclear warhead for use with its ICBM, but international experts say such research is ongoing.

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The US and South Korea respond... with missiles

The United States and South Korea responded to North Korea's ICBM test by conducting a joint missile exercise off the coast of South Korea.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in's office has said the drill was meant to show North Korea a "firm combined missile response posture."

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North Korea's missile tests

This picture, dated May 14, 2017 by North Korea's state news agency, shows the launch of a Hwasong-12 missile. Officials in South Korea and Japan say the test missile, which landed roughly 60 miles south of Russia, flew 430 miles and reached an altitude of 1,245 miles, Reuters reports.

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Days later, another test...

Less than a week later, North Korea tested a second missile, the Pukguksong-2, a ground-to-ground, medium-to-long range strategic ballistic missile. The May 21 test flew just 310 miles before crashing into the Sea of Japan, the New York Times reports.

Here, a group of North Koreans watch the test on a big screen in central Pyongyang.

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The latest North Korean missile test

This undated picture released by the KCNA on May 22 purportedly shows a Pukguksong-2 during its test-fire.

North Korea's latest missile represents a real advance in tech. It uses solid fuel which, unlike the liquid fuel used in the past, allows operators to ready the missile while in hiding.

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North Korea's 10th missile test this year

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un here celebrates the test fire of the medium-range Pukguksong-2 missile on May 22. The launch marks North Korea's 10th such test this year.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, "The ongoing testing is disappointing, disturbing, and we ask that they cease that," Reuters reported.

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Protesting the Jan. 6, 2016 nuclear test

It's not just North Korea's missiles that have Asia worried -- the country has been more aggressive in its nuclear testing as of late, too. In January 2016, North Korea tested what it claimed to be a hydrogen bomb at its underground Punggye-ri test site. That was followed by another 20- to 30-kiloton test blast in September.

Secretary Tillerson has said that further nuclear testing by North Korea would result in economic sanctions from China, the country's main trading partner, according to the Washington Times.

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But are the missiles really a threat?

Though North Korea claims its "mid-to-long-range" missiles can carry a nuclear warhead, military analysts suggest it is not a real threat -- yet -- to the US, or its strategic military bases in Guam in the Western Pacific.

"Based upon the analysis of related authorities," South Korean military spokesman Col. Roh Jae-cheon told the New York Times, "the missile cannot reach" Guam.

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Spending on missiles, not food

North Korea's missiles may merely be an expensive show of strength. Here, a Hwasong-type missile is rolled through the streets of Pyongyang during an April military parade.

Amnesty International estimates that North Korea is spending up to 22 percent of its gross domestic product on its military. (North Korea state media puts the figure at 15.8 percent.) At the same time, an estimated 40 percent of North Korea's population suffers from malnourishment, according to the UN.

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North Korea has one of the largest militaries in the world

Missiles aside, one of North Korea's most formidable assets may be the sheer size of its military. Because the country has universal conscription, North Korea's military has 1.19 million active members and another 7.7 million in reserve.

Here, the Korean People's Army marches through Kim Il-Sung square in Pyongyang on April 15, 2017.

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Tanks, yes. Cars, no

The tanks and troop transports seen in parades such as these represent a motorized world far beyond the reach of most North Koreans. Only military and government officials are allowed to own motor vehicles in the country.

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A family dynasty

This particular military parade, held on April 16, celebrated the 105th anniversary of the birth of North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung.

The first supreme leader of North Korea, Kim Il-Sung is viewed by many in North Korea as having a divine provenance. He ruled from the country's creation in 1948 until his death in 1994. His son Kim Jong-Il ruled until 2011. Today, North Korea is ruled by Il-Sung's grandson, Kim Jong-Un (seen here waving).

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A country perpetually at war

Though the Korean War ended with the signing of an armistice on July 27, 1953, there was no formal peace treaty between the two sides. As such, tensions between North Korea and US-fortified South Korea have remained high for decades.

Today, the two countries are divided by a 160-mile-long, 2.5-mile-wide strip of land known as the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that is free of heavy weaponry. The Associated Press reports that North Korea keeps an estimated 60 percent of its forces adjacent to the line.

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Inside a North Korean 'tunnel of aggression'

South Korea has discovered four tunnels under the DMZ -- apparent attempts by North Korea to create an invasion route. The first tunnel, discovered in 1974, had already been fortified with concrete, wired with electricity and equipped with a narrow railway capable of transferring 20,000 soldiers per hour.

Today, these "tunnels of aggression" are guarded by the South Korean military and are available for visit by tourists.

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Vice President Pence visits the DMZ

Tensions at the DMZ are still palpable. Both sides have blasted propaganda at the other through massive outdoor loudspeakers, and episodes of armed violence have erupted.

Here, US Vice President Mike Pence visits Observation Post Ouellette on April 17, a day after a failed North Korean missile test.

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Bringing high-tech defense to South Korea

Though the US has little to fear from North Korean missile attacks, the South Korean capitol of Seoul is just 35 miles from the DMZ. As such, the US has pledged to assist its allies in the South by granting it access to a powerful missile defense system.

Here, South Korean farmer In-Suk Hwang stands next to the DMZ fence on the island of Gyodong.

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Rolling out missile defense in South Korea

In March 2017, the US military began rolling out the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system to South Korea. It is designed to protect the country against the short- and medium-range missiles in the North's arsenal.

Here, trucks unload the THAAD at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea.

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Defending against North Korean missiles for a decade...

The THAAD missile defense system does not use explosive warheads, instead relying on kinetic energy to destroy incoming missiles. That is, its guided missiles just smash into their targets instead of detonating. It was developed, in part, as a defense against the Scud missiles launched by Iraq during the Gulf War in 1991.

The highly successful system was first deployed by the US military in 2008.

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THAAD has its opponents, however

THAAD isn't without controversy. Both Russia and China have major concerns over the system, as it would reduce the effectiveness of their own weapons in the region.

Here, residents of Seongju county participate in a protest against the recently installed THAAD system nearby, on March 18. The locals object to the radiation emitted by THAAD's system's powerful radar, VOA News reports.

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How North Korea celebrates 85 years of existence: Missiles

Still, in the face of a local missile defense system and international pressure to cease its nuclear and missile tests, North Korea continues to launch its weapons.

Here, the North Korean People's Army stages a combined fire demonstration at an airport on the eastern front on April 26, to celebrate the country's 85th anniversary.

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Though the explosive fire power of North Korea's weapons registers well on camera here, few believe the country could actually win a war against South Korea or the US. Still, the North could inflict massive amounts of damage in a relatively short time.

"It's just, how much damage can [Kim Jong-Un] do before we take him out?" retired Air Force Gen. Herbert Carlisle told Military Times.

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A nasty war worth avoiding

There are more than 25 million people in the Seoul metro area alone. Any war between the North and South would likely start a humanitarian crisis. And should North Korean troops press into the South Korean capital, America's ability to provide air cover would be limited.

Making the possibility of war even more grim, it's estimated that North Korea possesses anywhere between 2,500 and 5,000 tons of chemical weapons it could launch against the South.

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Is computer warfare far behind?

North Korea's unconventional methods of warfare would likely extend to the internet, as well. The UN is investigating a May 8 cyberattack against its 1718 Committee, which investigates violations of the economic sanctions currently levied against North Korea.

The hackers allegedly had "very detailed insight" into the committee and its investigations, Reuters reports. North Korea is also suspected to be behind the WannaCry ransomware attack earlier in the month.

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