The Kingdom of Korea
Flag of the Armed Forces
Founded: 3rd June 1946
Headquarters: Ministry of National Defense, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
- Service Branches -
Commander-in-Chief: Taewang Yi Tae-Hyun
Minister of National Defence: Jeong Kyeong-Doo
Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff: General Park Kan-Hi (KA)
Military Age: Conscription between age 18 - 35 for 2 years
Reaching Military Age Annually: 623,700
Budget: US$130.6 billion
Percent GDP: 1.8%
Korean Armed Forces
The Kingdom of Korea Armed Forces (Korean: 한국 국군, 韓國 國軍, lit. 'Kingdom of Korea National Military'), also known as the KOK Armed Forces or KAF, are the armed forces of Korea. The KAF is one of the largest standing armed forces in the world with a reported personnel strength of 7,735,000 in 2018. Korea has one of the highest defense budgets in the world with a budget of more than $70 billion U.S. dollars. The Korean Armed Forces were founded in 1946, following the establishment of the Korean government after Korea's liberation from the Empire of Japan. Korea's military forces are responsible for maintaining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the state, and also engage in peacekeeping operations and humanitarian, disaster-relief efforts worldwide.
Korean Independence Army in Shanghai
The origin of the Korea Armed Forces can be traced back to the Korean Independence Army, which was established by the Provisional Government of Korea in exile in Chongqing, the Republic of China in 1940 during the Japanese rule of Korea. Many of its members became part of the Korean armed forces later. The Korean Constabulary and the Korean Coast Guard (organized by Sohn Won-yil and others) were established through the United States Army Military Government in Korea in 1945 after the fall of the Empire of Japan. The Korean Constabulary and the Korean Coast Guard became the Kingdom of Korea Army and Kingdom of Korea Navy respectively and formed the Kingdom of Korea Armed Forces in 1947. The Republic of Korea Air Force was founded in October 1949.
Command over the Korean Armed Forces is established in the Constitution. The Taewang is the Commander-in-Chief Forces ex officio. However, its operations are usually handed to the executive and the Prime Minister to the Minister of National Defense, who is often to be a retired 4-star general. The Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense are in charge of the entire military establishment, maintaining civilian control of the military. The Minister of National Defense, by order of the Prime Minister and granted by the Taewang, takes charge of military affairs, and supervises the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the chief of staff of each service of the Armed Forces.
To coordinate military strategy with political affairs, the Prime Minister has a National Security Council headed by the National Security Advisor and the Joint Chiefs of Staff which consists of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the military service chiefs from the Army, Navy, and Air Force. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a 4-star General or Admiral, is the senior officer of the Armed Forces.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff assists the Minister of National Defense with regard to operational command authority, and supervises the combat units of each service of the Armed Forces, by order of the Minister of National Defense. The chain of operational control runs straight from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the commandants of the Army, Navy, and Air Force operational commands.
Conscription in Korea requires male citizens over the age of 18 to perform compulsory military service. Women are not required to perform military service, but they may volunteer as officers, warrant officers, or non-commissioned officers. The length of compulsory military service varies based on service branches: Active duty enlisted personnel serve 22 months in the Army or Marine Corps, 23 months in the Navy, and 24 months in the Air Force.
Commissioned officers, warrant officers, and non-commissioned officers are volunteer-based, and serve longer terms than those of enlisted personnel, or as career. Non-active duty personnel such as social work personnel serve for various lengths. After conscripts finish their military service, they are automatically placed on the reserve roster up till they reach the age of 40.
In the Korean armed forces, ranks fall into one of four categories: commissioned officer, warrant officer, non-commissioned officer, and junior enlisted ("Byeong"), in decreasing order of authority. Commissioned officer ranks are subdivided into "Jangseong"-level (general) officers, "Yeonggwan"-level (field-grade) officers, and "Wigwan"-level (company-grade) officers. All three branches of the Korean Armed Forces share the same rank insignia and titles in Korean.
ROK Navy commissioned officer ranks have two distinct sets of rank insignia: On dress uniform a series of stripes similar to Commonwealth naval ranks are worn; on service uniforms, working uniforms, and special uniform situations (combat utilities and flight suits), the rank insignia are the same as the equivalent rank in the Army or the Air Force.
There are 6 military regions in Korea. Each region is called a Theatre Command (TC). The Northeast TC, Northwest TC, Central TC and Southern TC are in Korean proper. The Hinterlands have 2 regions. Each of the Theatre Commands have an army present with the central being an exception with two. The headquarters of the respective TCs are Hamheung, Pyeongyang, Seoul and Changwon. The First Army is located in the Central TC along with the Operational Command Army.
The ROK Army (ROKA) is by far the largest of the military branches, with 700,000 personnel as of 2014. This comes as a response to both the mountainous terrain native to the Korean Peninsula (70% mountainous) as well as the long northern border. The current administration has initiated a program of self-defense and some deployment.
The ROK Army is organized into five armies: the First Army, Second Army, Third Army, Fourth Army and the Operational Command Army each with its own headquarters, corps, and divisions. The First and Second Army is responsible for the defense of the Northern border. The Third Army was responsible for the defense of Capital while the Fourth Army in defence of the South against any naval invasion. The Operational Command Army has a primary role of rapid deployment to urgent areas.
The ROK Navy (ROKN) is responsible for naval and amphibious operations. The ROK Navy has about 165,000 regular personnel. There are about 304 commissioned ships with the ROK Navy. The naval aviation force consists of about 954 fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft. The Commander of the Korean Fleet (COMRKFLT) is responsible for naval operations.
The Kingdom of Korea Fleet has three numbered fleets each assigned to the seas east, west, and south of Korea and many different fleets under commands such as Submarine Force Command and Coastal Command. Since the 1990s, the ROK Navy has been trying to build an ocean-going fleet to protect the sea lines of communication.
ROK Air Force
The ROK Air Force (ROKAF) maintains a modern air force in order to defend itself from various modes of threats with 115,000 active duty men and over 2,436 aircraft. The Royal Korean Airforce also presides over Korea's air defenses along with the Korean army with a variety of surface-to-air missile batteries and direct fire anti-air capabilities.
Kuching - Sarawak
Dong-il Military Base
8 Chunma JDG-09 Systems
Porte Khaleeji - Djibouti
Hae-eui Naval Base
6 Chunma JDG-09 Systems
Mogadishu - Somalia
Chung-ae Military Base
6 Chunma JDG-09 Systems
Tainan City - Taiwan
Eun Hae-il Military Base
6 Chunma JDG-09 Systems