In 1971, Kim Il-sung
directed that “Military Foundation Day” be changed from 8 February to 25 April, the nominal day of establishment of his anti-Japanese guerrilla army in 1932, to recognize the supposedly indigenous Korean origins of the KPA and obscure its Soviet origin.
An active arms industry
had been developed to produce long-range missiles such as the Nodong-1
The Korean People’s Army history began with the Korean Volunteer Army (KVA), which was formed in Yenan
, China, in 1939. The two individuals responsible for the army were Kim Tu-bong
and Mu Chong. At the same time, a school was established near Yenan for training military and political leaders for a future independent Korea. By 1945, the KVA had grown to approximately 1,000 men, mostly Korean deserters from the Imperial Japanese Army
. During this period, the KVA fought alongside the Chinese communist forces from which it drew its arms and ammunition. After the defeat of the Japanese, the KVA accompanied the Chinese communist forces into Manchuria
, intending to gain recruits from the Korean population of Manchuria and then enter Korea. By September 1945, the KVA had a 2,500 strong force at its disposal.
Just after World War II
and during the Soviet Union’s occupation of the part of Korea north of the 38th Parallel, the Soviet 25th Army
headquarters in Pyongyang issued a statement ordering all armed resistance groups in the northern part of the peninsula to disband on October 12, 1945. Two thousand Koreans with previous experience in the Soviet army were sent to various locations around the country to organize constabulary
forces with permission from Soviet military headquarters, and the force was created on October 21, 1945.
The headquarters felt a need for a separate unit for security around railways, and the formation of the unit was announced on January 11, 1946. That unit was activated on August 15 of the same year to supervise existing security forces and creation of the national armed forces.
The first political-military school in the DPRK, the Pyongyang Military Academy (became No. 2 KPA Officers School in January 1949), headed by Kim Chaek
, an ally of Kim Il-sung, was founded in October 1945 under Soviet guidance to train people’s guards, or public security units. In 1946, graduates of the school entered regular police and public security/constabulary units. These lightly armed security forces included followers of Kim Il-sung and returned veterans from the People’s Republic of China
, and the Central Constabulary Academy (which became the KPA Military Academy in December 1948) soon followed for education of political and military officers for the new armed forces.
After the military was organized and facilities to educate its new recruits were constructed, the Constabulary Discipline Corps was reorganized into the Korean People’s Army General Headquarters. The previously semi-official units became military regulars with distribution of Soviet uniforms, badges, and weapons that followed the inception of the headquarters.
The State Security Department, a forerunner to the Ministry of People’s Defense, was created as part of the Interim People’s Committee on February 4, 1948. The formal creation of the Korean People’s Army was announced on four days later on February 8, the day after the Fourth Session of the People’s Assembly agreed to separate the roles of the military and those of the police,
seven months before the government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was proclaimed on September 9, 1948. In addition, the Ministry of State for the People’s Armed Forces was established, which controlled a central guard battalion, two divisions, and an independent mixed and combined arms brigade
The Korean People’s Army Ground Force (KPAGF) is the main branch of the Korean People’s Army responsible for land-based military operations. It is the de facto army
of North Korea
. The size, organization, disposition, and combat capabilities of the Ground Force give Pyongyang military options both for offensive operations to reunify the peninsula and for credible defensive operations against any perceived threat from South Korea.
The North Korean navy is organized into two fleets which are not able to support each other. The East Fleet is headquartered at T’oejo-dong
and the West Fleet at Nampho
. A number of training, shipbuilding and maintenance units and a naval air wing report directly to Naval Command Headquarters at Pyongyang
The majority of the navy’s ships are assigned to the East Fleet. Due to the short range of most ships, the two fleets are not known to have ever conducted joint operations or shared vessels.
People’s Air Force and Defence
The KPAF is also responsible for North Korea’s air defence forces through the use of anti-aircraft artillery and surface-to-air (SAM) missiles. While much of the equipment is outdated, the high saturation of multilayered, overlapping, mutually supporting air defence sites provides a formidable challenge to enemy air attacks.
People’s Strategic Rocket Forces
The Korean People’s Strategic Rocket Forces is a major division of the KPA that controls the DPRK’s nuclear and conventional strategic missiles. It is mainly equipped with surface-to-surface missiles
design, as well as locally developed long-range missiles.
Worker-Peasant Red Guard Militia
The Red Guards (1997 complement 3.5 million) is the DPRK equivalent of the ROTC/Home Guard/National Guard. It is regarded as a part of the Ministry of National Defence and it’s flag enjoys the same status as that of the other services. With units organized from University level down to the village level, it provides the Korean People’s Armed Forces with a ready-available pool of trained reinforcements.