North Korea Table of Contents
Over 90 percent of all KPA personnel in 1992--more than 1 million troops--were in the ground forces, the North Korean army. Ground forces in 1960 may have totalled fewer than 400,000 persons and probably did not rise much above that figure before 1972. The force expanded relentlessly over the next two decades; in 1992, there were approximately 1 million personnel. The size, organization, disposition, and combat capabilities of the army give P'yongyang military options both for offensive operations to reunify the peninsula and for credible defensive operations against any perceived threat from South Korea.
The army is largely an infantry force although a decade-long modernization program has significantly improved the mobility and firepower of its active forces. Between 1980 and 1992, North Korea reorganized, reequipped, and forward deployed the majority of its ground forces. The army places great emphasis on special operations and has one of the largest special operations forces in the world--tailored to meet the distinct requirements of Korean terrain.
Data as of June 1993