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Republic of Korea Armed Forces

Republic of Korea Armed Forces
대한민국 국군
Emblem of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Korea
Flag of the Republic of Korea Armed Forces
Founded August 15, 1948
Service branches Republic of Korea Army
Republic of Korea Navy
Republic of Korea Air Force
Republic of Korea Marine Corps
Headquarters Seoul, South Korea
Commander-in-Chief Park Geun-Hye
President of South Korea, ex officio
Minister of National Defense Han Min-goo
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Choi Yoon-Hee, ROKN
Military age Mandatory 18 to 35 years of age for male, wartime conscription 18–45 years of age
Conscription 21–24 months depending on the branch
Available for
military service
12,483,677 (2005 est.), age 15–49
Reaching military
age annually
344,943 (2005 est.)
Active personnel 655,000 (2012)[1] (ranked 7th)
Reserve personnel 4.5 million (2012)[1] (ranked 3rd)
Deployed personnel

13 nations, 1,676 troops total
List of major deployment[2]

Budget USD 33.9 Billion(2013),[3]ranked 10th
(this figure excluding ₩ 0.92 trillion($1 Billion USD) given by Korea to United States Forces Korea
Percent of GDP 2.8%
Domestic suppliers

List of major suppliers [5]

Foreign suppliers

List of major suppliers

Related articles
History Korean War (1950-1953)
Vietnam War (1964-1973)
Persian Gulf War (1991)
War in Afghanistan (2001-present)
Iraq War (2003-2008)
Ranks Military ranks of South Korea
Comparative military ranks of Korea

The Republic of Korea Armed Forces (Korean: 대한민국 국군; Hanja: 大韓民國國軍; Revised Romanization: Daehanminguk Gukgun), also known as the ROK Armed Forces, are the armed forces of South Korea. Created in 1948, following the division of Korea, the Republic of Korea Armed Forces is one of the largest standing armed forces in the world with a reported personnel strength of 3,539,000 in 2012 (639,000 active and 2,900,000 reserve).[1] The ROK military forces are responsible for maintaining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the republic, but often engage in humanitarian and disaster-relief efforts nationwide. More recently the ROK military began increasing its participation in international affairs, acknowledging its role and responsibility as the fifteenth economic power in the world in terms of GDP. The ROK military has participated in various peacekeeping operations, and counter-terrorism operations.


  • History 1
  • Structure 2
    • National Command Authority 2.1
    • Joint Chiefs of Staff 2.2
  • Service branches 3
    • ROK Army 3.1
    • ROK Navy 3.2
      • ROK Marine Corps 3.2.1
    • ROK Air Force 3.3
  • Personnel 4
    • Ranks 4.1
  • Overseas deployments 5
  • Modernization and future 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


The South Korean armed forces were largely

Today, the South Korean armed forces enjoy a good mix of avant-garde as well as older conventional weapons. South Korea has one of the highest defense budgets in the world, ranking 12th globally in 2011, with a budget of more than $30 billion U.S. dollars. Its capabilities include many sophisticated American and European weapon systems, complemented by a growing and increasingly more advanced indigenous defense manufacturing sector. For example, by taking advantage of the strong local shipbuilding industry, the ROK Navy has embarked on a rigorous modernization plan with ambitions to become a blue-water navy by 2020.[6] South Korea has a joint military partnership with the United States, termed the ROK-U.S. Alliance,[7] as outlined by the Mutual Defense Treaty signed after the Korean War. During the outbreak of the Vietnam War, ROK Army and the ROK Marines were among those fighting alongside South Vietnam and the United States. More recently, South Korea also takes part in regional as well as pan-Pacific national military wargames and exercises such as RIMPAC and RSOI. Among other components of the armed forces is the Defence Security Command, originally the Army Counter-Intelligence Corps, which had a major role in monitoring the military's loyalty during the period of military rule in South Korea.

Hazing and harassment have reportedly been a continuous problem in all branches of the ROK military. In 2005, a ROK Army soldier who said he had been abused shot and killed eight of his fellow soldiers. In 2008, a soldier threw a grenade at other sleeping soldiers, injuring five. In 2011, a ROK Marine who had been abused killed four of his comrades on Ganghwa Island. Eighty-two military personnel committed suicide in 2010. From 2009-2010, 940 ROK Marines were hospitalized after being abused.[8]


The ROK Armed Forces consists of the:

In addition, reserve elements consist of the:

National Command Authority

The President is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces ex officio. The military authority runs from the President to the Minister of Defense, who is commonly (but not legally bound to be) a retired 4-star General (equivalent to a British Army/Commonwealth full General or a Royal Navy/Commonwealth Admiral of the Fleet).

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a 4-star General or Admiral, is the Senior Officer of the Armed Forces and has the Operational Authority over the Armed Forces, with directions from the President through the Minister of Defense. Traditionally (with one exception), the position is filled by an officer of the Army. The chain of Operational Authority runs straight from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Commandants of the several Operational Commands. Currently there are five Operational Commands in the Army, two in the Navy (including the Marine Corps) and one in the Air Force.

The respective Chiefs of Staff of each Service Branch (Army, Navy, Air Force) has administrative control over his or her own service. Each Chief of Staff is also a standing member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Joint Chiefs of Staff

The Republic of Korea Joint Chiefs of Staff headquarters (Hangul: 대한민국 합동참모본부, Hanja: 大韓民國 合同參謀本部) is a group of Chiefs from each major branch of the armed services in the Republic of Korea Armed Forces. Unlike the United States, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has operational control over all military personnel of the armed forces.

All regular members are 4-star Generals or Admirals, although the Deputy Chairman sometimes has only 3 stars.

Service branches

ROK Army

The ROK Army (ROKA)—the sixth largest army in the world—is by far the largest of the military branches, with 506,000 personnel as of 2012. This comes as a response to both the mountainous terrain native to the Korean Peninsula (70% mountainous) as well as the heavy North Korean presence, with its 1 million strong army, two-thirds of which is permanently garrisoned in the frontline near the DMZ. The current administration has initiated a program of self-defense, whereby South Korea would be able to fully counter the North Korean threat with purely domestic means within the next two decades.

The ROK Army was formerly organized into three armies: the First Army (FROKA), Third Army (TROKA) and Second Operational Command each with its own headquarters, corps(not Second Operational Command), and divisions. The Third Army was responsible for the defense of the capital as well as the western section of the DMZ. The First Army was responsible for the defense of the eastern section of the DMZ whereas the Second Operational Command formed the rearguard.

Under a restructuring plan aimed at reducing redundancy, the First and Third Armies will be incorporated into the newly formed First Operations Command, whereas the Second ROK Army has been converted into the Second Operational Command. The army consists of the Army Headquarters, the Aviation Command, and the Special Warfare Command, with 7 corps, 39 divisions, some 520,000 troops and estimated as many as 5,850 tanks and armored vehicles, 11,337 artillery systems, 7,032 missile defense systems and 13,000 infantry support systems.[6]

The army will take the brunt of the personnel reduction part of the Defense Reform 2020. Associated with this personnel reduction would be a significant reduction in the ROK Army force structure, in particular decreasing the current force of 47 divisions (active duty and reserve) down to a force of about 24 divisions.[9]

ROK Navy

The ROKS Munmu the Great (DDH-976) underway in July 2006.
ROKN Sejong the Great (DDG 991), a King Sejong the Great -class guided-missile destroyer

The ROK Navy (ROKN) is the armed forces branch responsible for conducting naval operations and amphibious landing operations.[10] As a part of its mission, the ROK Navy has engaged in several peacekeeping operations since the turn of the century.[11] The ROK Navy includes the Republic of Korea Navy Headquarters, Republic of Korea Fleet, Naval Logistics Command, Naval Education and Training Command, Naval Academy, and Republic of Korea Marine Corps, which is a quasi-autonomous organization. The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) is the highest-ranking officer (four-star admiral) of the ROK Navy.

In 1995, Admiral Commander-in-Chief Republic of Korea Fleet (CINCROKFLT) by upgrading a submarine operations command (to fleet submarine force), a naval aviation operations command (to fleet air arm), and by establishing some Mobile Flotillas.[14] The ROK Navy aims to become a blue-water navy by 2020.[15]

In the first decade of the 21st century, the ROK Navy launched the lead ships of newly developed types: in 2002, ROKS Chungmugong Yi Sunshin (DDH 975), a 4,500-ton destroyer, was launched; in 2005, the 14,000-ton amphibious landing ship, ROKS Dokdo (LPH 6111) was launched; in 2006, the ROK Navy launched the Sohn Won-yil (SS 072), an 1,800-ton Type 214 submarine with Air-Independent propulsion (AIP) system. In 2007, the ROK Navy launched the lead ship (DDG 991) of the King Sejong the Great class destroyer, built around the Aegis combat system and the SPY-1D multi-function phased array radar. The ROK Navy is undertaking several shipbuilding projects: Korean Destroyer Experimental (KDX) program, Frigate Experimental (FFX), Landing Platform Experimental (LPX), Patrol Killer Experimental (PKX), and Korean Submarine (KSS) program.

The ROK Navy hosted its second international fleet review off coast of Busan in October 2008.

ROK Marine Corps

ROK Marines preparing to board the American amphibious assault ship, USS Essex (LHD-2) in 2007.

Although the National Armed Forces Organisation Act stipulates that the ROK Navy includes the

  • Republic of Korea Military Guide (
  • Republic of Korea Ministry of National Defense (ROKMND) (Korean / English)

External links

  1. ^ a b c "국방백서 2012". 2012-12-21. 
  2. ^ "한국군 해외파병 현황". 2012-12-14. 
  3. ^ "The 15 countries with the highest military expenditure in 2013 (table)" (PDF).  
  4. ^ "[노컷시론] 방위분담금 우리경제에 도움 돼야". nocutnews. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  5. ^ "방위사업법 제35조(방산업체의 지정 등)에 의하여 지정된 방산업체의 현황". Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c "North vs. South Korea: A Military Comparison." Global Bearings, 7 November 2011.
  7. ^ a b "North Korea vs South Korea". 22 October 2012. Retrieved 26 March 2013. 
  8. ^ Glionna, John M., and Jung-yoon Choi, "Barracks Shooting Prompts South Koreans To Call For Military Reform", Los Angeles Times, 17 July 2011.
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Duty of the ROK Navy". Republic of Korea Navy Official Website. Retrieved March 10, 2007.
  11. ^ "해군작전사령부 창설 54주년..어제와 오늘 그리고 미래". Ministry of National Defense Official Website. Retrieved March 4, 2007.
  12. ^ "21세기 통일한국의 大洋해군 전략". Retrieved March 8, 2007.
  13. ^ "김대통령, 해군사관학교 졸업 및 임관식 참석말씀". Kim Dae-jung Presidential Library Official Website. Retrieved March 12, 2007.
  14. ^ "2006 국방백서". Ministry of National Defense Official Website. Retrieved March 11, 2007.
  15. ^ "대양해군건설". Republic of Korea Navy Official Website. Retrieved March 4, 2007.
  16. ^ "해병대 조직". Republic of Korea Marine Corps Official Website. Retrieved March 26, 2007.
  17. ^ "해병대관련표어". Republic of Korea Marine Corps Official Website. Retrieved September 12, 2007.
  18. ^ Sniper Targeting Pod for FA-50
  19. ^ Condor 2 Reconnaissance Pod for FA-50
  20. ^ Rafael SPICE 1000 Guided Bomb
  21. ^ FA-50 Expanded Weapons and Avionics. Retrieved on 2011-06-05.
  22. ^ AMRAAM and Derby for FA-50
  23. ^ Python 5 and New Weapons Developed by Korea for FA-50
  24. ^ IN FOCUS: South Korea outlines strategy for indigenous fighter
  25. ^ "Boeing F-15K Selected by the Republic of Korea as F-X Fighter" (Press release).  
  26. ^ KBS. "Extra Points for Serving in the Military." KBS. 2013-04-17.
  27. ^ 아라우 부대
  28. ^
  29. ^


See also

The ROK military forces are undergoing rapid modernization in preparation for assuming wartime operational control of the ROK's defenses by December 2015.[7] Several cutting-edge military systems are currently being inducted.[6] At the same time, the ROK Armed Forces will see a reduction in active duty personnel from 640,000 to 517,000 by the end of this decade.[29]

Modernization and future

Name of Conflict/PKO Location Date Deployed Casualty Notes
Started Ended Current Total Dead Wounded Missing Captured
Vietnam War  South Vietnam 1964-09-01 1973-03-23 325,517 5,099 10,962 4 0
Persian Gulf War  Saudi Arabia
 United Arab Emirates
1991-01-24 1991-04-10 314 0 0 0 0
UNOSOM II  Somalia 1993-07-30 1994-03-18 516 0 0 0 0
MINURSO  Western Sahara 1994-08-09 2006-05-15 542 0 0 0 0
UNOMIG  Georgia 1994-10-06 2009-07-10 88 1 0 0 0
UNAVEM III  Angola 1995-10-05 1996-12-23 600 0 0 0 0
1997-03-03 ongoing 7 165 1 0 0 0
UNAMET  East Timor 1999-10-04 2004-06-04 3,328 5 0 0 0
Cooperation  United States 2001-11-16 ongoing 3 44 0 0 0 0
OEF - Afghanistan  Afghanistan 2001-12-18 ongoing 63 5,082 2 1 0 0
UNFICYP  Cyprus 2002-01-04 2003-12-23 1 0 0 0 0
Iraq War  Iraq 2003-02-12 2008-12-30 20,308 1 0 0 0
CJTF-HOA  Djibouti 2003-03 2012-12 15 0 0 0 0
UNMIL  Liberia 2003-10-18 ongoing 2 20 0 0 0 0
ONUB  Burundi 2004-09-15 2006-12-11 4 0 0 0 0
UNMIS  Sudan 2005-11-25 2011-07 46 0 0 0 0
UNIFIL  Lebanon 2007-01-16 ongoing 321 4,229 0 0 0 0
UNMIN    Nepal 2007-03-12 2011-01-15 13 1 0 0 0
OEF - Horn of Africa  Somalia 2008-01-16 ongoing 310 3,700 0 3 0 0
UNAMID  Sudan 2009-06-16 ongoing 2 8 0 0 0 0
MINURSO  Western Sahara 2009-07-27 ongoing 4 12 0 0 0 0
UNOCI  Côte d'Ivoire 2009-07-28 ongoing 2 8 0 0 0 0
MINUSTAH  Haiti 2009-11-11 ongoing 2 1,433 0 0 0 0
Cooperation  United Arab Emirates 2011-01 ongoing 150 687 0 1 0 0
UNMISS  South Sudan 2011-07 ongoing 290 290 0 0 0 0
Araw Contingent  Philippines 2013-12 ongoing 520[27] 540[28] 0 0 0 0

Overseas deployments

Commissioned Officers (장교; 將校; Janggyo)
장관 (將官; Janggwan)
원수 元帥 Wonsu General of the Army
대장 大將 Daejang General
중장 中將 Jungjang Lieutenant General
소장 少將 Sojang Major General
준장 准將 Junjang Brigadier General
영관 (領官; Yeonggwan)
대령 大領 Daeryeong Colonel
중령 中領 Jungnyeong Lieutenant Colonel
소령 少領 Soryeong Major
위관 (尉官; Wigwan)
대위 大尉 Daewi Captain
중위 中尉 Jungwi First Lieutenant
소위 少尉 Sowi Second Lieutenant
Warrant Officers (준사관; 准士官; Junsagwan)
준위 准尉 Junwi Warrant Officer
Non-Commissioned Officers (부사관; 副士官; Busagwan)
원사 元士 Wonsa Sergeant Major
상사 上士 Sangsa Master Sergeant
중사 中士 Jungsa Sergeant First Class
하사 下士 Hasa Staff Sergeant
Enlisted (병; 兵; Byeong)
병장 兵長 Byeongjang Sergeant
상병 上兵 Sangbyeong Corporal
일병 一兵 Ilbyeong Private First Class
이병 二兵 Ibyeong Private
Note: The English titles are given as comparative examples with the US Army ranks.


In the Republic of Korea Armed Forces, ranks fall into one of four categories: commissioned officer, warrant officer, non-commissioned officer, and enlisted, in decreasing order of authority. Commissioned officer ranks are further subdivided into "Janggwan" or general officers, "Yeonggwan" or field grade officers, and "Wigwan" or company officers. The "Wonsu" is appointed from the "Daejang" who has distinguished achievements. However, there has been no one holding the rank of "Wonsu" in the history of the ROK Armed Forces. All branches share a common rank-system, with different colors used to denote the different branches (Army: Green & Black, Navy: White & Black, Marine Corps: Red & Yellow, Air Force: Green & Blue).

Recently, however, there has been significant pressure from the public demanding either a shortening of the term or a switch to voluntary military service.

Military service is mentioned as one of the Four Constitutional Duties (along with taxes, education, and labor) for all citizens. The current effective Conscription Law, however, applies only to males although women can volunteer as officers or non-commissioned officers. Military service varies according to branch: 21 months for the Army and Marine Corps, 23 months for the Navy, 24 months for the Air Force and civil service. The other professional civil service is from 26 months to 36 months. Korea has a bonus point system (Hangul: 군가산점; hanja: 軍加算點; RR: gungasanjeom) which gives a person who completed military service bonus points when applying for a job.[26]


The South Korean government also announced its plan to develop indigenous helicopter manufacturing capacities to replace the aging UH-1 helicopters, many of which had seen service during the Vietnam War. The program originally included plans for the development of both a civilian and a military helicopter. This was later revised and gave priority to the utility helicopter program. Based on the success and experience of the civilian KMH (Korean Multi-purpose Helicopter) the attack helicopter, which would share a common configuration, will be developed.

The replacement programs for the F-4D/E and F-5A/B/E/F are the KTX-2 and F-X, respectively. The latter has been fulfilled by the Boeing F-15K.[25]

The Republic of Korea Air Force also expressed interests in acquiring the RQ-4 Global Hawk and Joint Direct Attack Munition kits to further improve their intelligence and offensive capabilities.

Korea began a program for the development of indigenous jet trainers beginning in 1997. This project eventually culminated in the KAI T-50, dubbed the "Golden Eagle" which is used as a trainer for jet pilots, now being exported to Indonesia. A multirole all-weather version of the T-50 is the modified FA-50, which can be externally fitted with Rafael's Sky Shield or LIG Nex1's ALQ-200K ECM pods, Sniper or LITENING targeting pods, and Condor 2 reconnaissance pods to further improve the fighter's electronic warfare, reconnaissance, and targeting capabilities.[18][19] Other improved weapon systems over FA-50 include SPICE multifunctional guidance kits,[20] Textron CBU-97/105 Sensor Fuzed Weapon with WCMD tail kits, JDAM, and JDAM-ER for more comprehensive air-to-ground operations, and AIM-120 missiles for BVR air-to-air operations.[21] FA-50 has provisions for, but does not yet integrate, Python and Derby missiles, also produced by Rafael, and other anti-ship missiles, stand-off weapons, and sensors to be domestically developed by Korea.[22][23][24]

The ROK Air Force (ROKAF) maintains a modern air force in order to defend itself from various modes of threats, including the North Korean Army. The ROK Air Force fields some 450 combat aircraft of American design. In contrast, the North Korean Army has roughly 650 combat aircraft, but mostly obsolete types of Soviet and Chinese origin.

ROK Air Force

The motto of the ROK Marine Corps is "한번 해병은 영원한 해병" (Once a marine, always a marine).

[17], the ROKMC earned their nickname as "귀신잡는 해병대" (English: Ghost-Catching Marines).Korean War During the [16]

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