• DPRK and South Korean soldiers at the DMZ (Panmunjom)

North Korea Military

North Korea Military - the DPRK has the 4th largest army in the world. Many consider it one of the strongest and most feared. Right now the "Military First" policy ("Songun Chongch'i") gives priority to national military force.

Still technically at war with South Korea, it is fairly common to see people in military uniform when travelling in North Korea. Below are some basic facts regarding the DPRK's military.

North Korean miitary trucks on 9.9 National Day in Pyongyang, capital city of the DPRK

Name: Korean People's Army (KPA)

Foundation: February 8, 1948

Supreme Commander: Kim Jong Un

Conscription age: 17 years

DPRK Ground Forces

Most important component of the KPA. A large amount of forces are located close to the DMZ.

Personnel: 1.1 million active (estimate)

Equipment: traditionally Soviet and Chinese, there is now local production. New trucks, tanks and other infantry models have been added recently and older ones are well maintained.

Special features: the DPRK has the second largest special military operations force in the world. They have been specifically trained for local mountainous topographic conditions.


The North Korean Navy is the military branch with less priority in the DPRK.

North Korean navy

Name: Korean People's Navy (KPN)

Fleet: 706 ships, 24 submarines

Headquarters: Nampho (west coast fleet) Toejodong (east coast fleet)

Personnel: 47, 000 (estimate)

Please see our USS Pueblo section to read information involving the KPN and the US navy.

Air Force

DPRK Airforce

Name: Korean People's Air Force (KPAF)

Personnel: 112,000 (estimate)

Aircraft: 1,800 (estimate)

The KPAF is defensive. Most bases are well protected against potential attacks with underground areas and runways.

Workers' Peasant Red Guards

North Korean female soldiers

Defence force formed by civilians mainly in second tier cities, towns and North Korean villages.

Personnel: 3.6 million (estimate)

Related pages:

Please click on our North Korea Information section to go from our page on the North Korea Military to read non statistical information about the DPRK.


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