Military history of Korea

South Korea Military of South Korea
Flag of the Republic of Korea Army.svg Republic of Korea Army
Naval Jack of South Korea.svg Republic of Korea Navy
Flag of the Republic of Korea Air Force.svg Republic of Korea Air Force
Flag of the Republic of Korea Marine Corps.svg Republic of Korea Marine Corps
Flag of the Republic of Korea Reserve Forces.svg Republic of Korea Homeland Reserve Forces
Military ranks (comparative)

Korea's military history spans thousands of years, beginning with the ancient nation of Gojoseon and continuing into the present day with the countries of North Korea and South Korea, and is notable for its many successful triumphs over invaders. Throughout its history, Korea has boasted numerous exceptional leaders who gained outstanding victories against numerically superior enemies. Famed leaders credited with defending Korea against foreign invasions include: Eulji Mundeok of Goguryeo, who defeated Sui China during the Goguryeo–Sui War;[1] Yeon Gaesomun of Goguryeo, who defeated Emperor Taizong of Tang China during the Goguryeo–Tang War;[2][3] Gang Gam-chan of Goryeo, who defeated the Khitan Empire during the Goryeo-Khitan War;[4] Choe Yeong and Yi Seong-gye of Goryeo, who defeated the Red Turbans, who later established Ming China, during the Red Turban Invasions;[5][6] and Yi Sun-shin of Joseon, who defeated the Japanese at sea during the Imjin War.[7] Other notable leaders include: Gwanggaeto the Great of Goguryeo, who created a great empire in Northeast Asia through conquest,[8] and subjugated the other Korean kingdoms of Baekje, Silla and Gaya to bring about a brief unification of the Three Kingdoms of Korea;[9] Geunchogo of Baekje, who captured Pyongyang and established overseas territories to control much of the Korean peninsula and dominate the seas;[10][11] Munmu and Kim Yu-sin of Silla, who united the Three Kingdoms of Korea and defeated Tang China to gain complete control of the Korean peninsula;[12] Dae Jo-yeong, who created Balhae from Goguryeo's ashes and reconquered Goguryeo lands lost during the Goguryeo-Tang War;[13] Jang Bogo of Later Silla, who created a maritime empire and commanded a powerful fleet;[14] Wang Geon, who united the Later Three Kingdoms of Korea and established Goryeo as the successor to Goguryeo;[15] and Yun Gwan of Goryeo, who defeated the Jurchens and constructed nine fortresses in Manchuria.[16]

Today, both North Korea and South Korea field some of the largest and most lethal armies in the world. On one hand, North Korea is widely suspected of having nuclear weapons, as well as other weapons of mass destruction. South Korea, for its part, is equipped with a sophisticated conventional military with state-of-the-art weapons. In addition, South Korean troops actively participated in the Vietnam War, contributing the second largest foreign military contingent after the United States,[17] and are currently serving in various UN peacekeeping missions around the world. The South Korean military enjoys military alliances with other countries, particularly the United States.




Proto–Three Kingdoms of KoreaEdit





Three Kingdoms PeriodEdit

Goguryeo campaignsEdit

Goguryeo, Baekje–Silla Alliance WarEdit

Other conflictsEdit

  • The Baekje Conquest of Tamna – 498
  • The Silla Conquest of Usan – 512

Goguryeo–Sui War (598–614)Edit

Goguryeo–Tang War (645–668)Edit

Including Goguryeo and Baekje alliance against Tang and Silla

Baekje–Tang War (660–663)Edit

Silla–Tang War (668–676)Edit

  • Other rebellions from Baekje and Goguryeo people
  • Battle of Maeso fortress

North South States PeriodEdit


  • Battle of Tianmenling – War of Foundation – 698
  • Balhae expedition to Dengzhou – 732
  • Balhae-Silla Conflicts
  • Conquest of Balhae by Khitan – 926

Silla (676–935)Edit

Goryeo DynastyEdit

Goryeo warsEdit

Internal strifeEdit

Joseon DynastyEdit


Nationwide Internal strifesEdit

Korean EmpireEdit


1910–1945: Colonial periodEdit

After 1945Edit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Kim, Jinwung (2012). A History of Korea: From "Land of the Morning Calm" to States in Conflict. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press. p. 49. ISBN 978-0253000781. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  2. ^ Kim, Jinwung (2012). A History of Korea: From "Land of the Morning Calm" to States in Conflict. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press. p. 50. ISBN 978-0253000781. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  3. ^ Miller, Owen (2014). Korean History in Maps. Cambridge University Press. p. 29. ISBN 978-1107098466. Retrieved 25 June 2016. "After the Tang dynasty succeeded the Sui, the second Tang emperor also tried to bring Goguryeo under its control, launching an unsuccessful attack in 645. Goguryeo repelled a second invasion in 662 with victories by the general Yeon Gaesomun."
  4. ^ Kim, Djun Kil (May 30, 2014). The History of Korea, 2nd Edition. ABC-CLIO. p. 66. ISBN 978-1610695824. "Later, in 1018, however, a third large-scale invasion from the Khitan was thwarted by Goryeo forces led by the general Gang Gamchan (948-1031). The Khitan thereafter gave up trying to subjugate Goryeo by force."
  5. ^ "Choe Yeong, the Victorious General of Goryeo Dynasty". KBS World Radio. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  6. ^ Lee, Ki-Baik (1984). A New History of Korea. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 165. ISBN 978-0674615762. "Yi Sŏng-gye himself won advancement through his success in the numerous battles of his day. He played a major role in repulsing the attacks of the Red Turban bandits and Japanese marauders, as well as in the campaign against the Yüan Tung-ning Commandery in Manchuria."
  7. ^ Gilbert, Marc Jason (Spring 2007). "Admiral Yi Sun–Shin, the Turtle Ships, and Modern Asian History" (PDF). Education About Asia. 12 (1): 34. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  8. ^ Kim, Jinwung (2012). A History of Korea: From "Land of the Morning Calm" to States in Conflict. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press. p. 35. ISBN 978-0253000781. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  9. ^ Lee, Hyun-hee; Park, Sung-soo; Yoon, Nae-hyun (2005). New History of Korea. Jimoondang. pp. 199–202. ISBN 9788988095850.
  10. ^ Shin, Hyoung Sik (March 31, 2005). A Brief History of Korea. Seoul, Korea: Ewha Womans University Press. pp. 29–30. ISBN 978-8973006199.
  11. ^ Lee, Ki-Baik (1984). A New History of Korea. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 37. ISBN 978-0674615762. "Then, in 371, Paekche struck northward into the Koguryŏ domain as far as Pyŏngyang, killing the Koguryŏ king, Kogugwŏn, in the course of the campaign. Paekche thus came to hold sway over a sizeable portion of the Korean Peninsula, including all the modern provinces of Kyŏnggi, Ch'ungch'ŏng, and Chŏlla, as well as parts of Hwanghae and Kangwŏn. Furthermore, King Kŭn Ch'ogo solidified his international position by making overtures to the Eastern Chin state in the Yangtze river region and to the Wa people in Japan."
  12. ^ Graff, David A. (2002). Medieval Chinese Warfare, 300-900. London: Routledge. p. 201. ISBN 9780415239554. "In 674 and 675 Tang forces under Liu Rengui attacked Silla itself. Chinese histories record that Liu was victorious and forced the king of Silla to sue for peace, while Korean historians report the defeat of the Chinese armies. The fact that the Tang government found it necessary to withdraw the headquarters of its Korean protectorate to the Liao River valley in the early months of 676 suggests that the Korean version is probably closer to the truth. Silla was left in uncontested control of almost the whole of the Korean peninsula, and there was no great Tang campaign to recover what had been won with such difficulty and so quickly lost."
  13. ^ "Daejoyeong, the Father of Balhae". KBS World Radio. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  14. ^ Choi, Wan Gee (2006). The Traditional Ships of Korea. Ewha Womans University Press. pp. 66–67. ISBN 978-8973006830. Retrieved 25 June 2016. "Using his official position and his immense military influence, Jang Bo-go amassed substantial wealth by controlling maritime trade between Silla, Tang and Japan. The famous American scholar of Asian history, Edwin O. Reischauer hailed Jang Bo-go as the trade prince of the maritime commerce empire. As Jang emerged as a formidable force in the sea, high-ranking officials in the Silla capital, Gyeongju, could no longer ignore him. Jang Bo-go ruled his domain with absolute political, military and economic autonomy."
  15. ^ Nahm, Andrew C. (2005). A Panorama of 5000 Years: Korean History (Second revised ed.). Seoul: Hollym International Corporation. p. 38. ISBN 978-0930878689. "General Wang Kŏn founded a new dynasty in 918. He named it Koryŏ, symbolizing that it was the successor to Koguryŏ."
  16. ^ Eglan, Jared (2015). Beasts of War: The Militarization of Animals. p. 40. ISBN 978-1329516137. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  17. ^ Baek, Glenn (April 10, 2013). "A Perspective on Korea's Participation in the Vietnam War". The Asan Institute for Policy Studies (53). Retrieved 26 June 2016.