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Republic of Korea Marine Corps
대한민국 해병대
Daehanminguk Haebyeongdae
Flag of Republic of Korea Marine Corps.svg
Flag of the Republic of Korea Marine Corps
Active April 15, 1949 – present
Country  South Korea
Branch Marine corps
Type Naval infantry
Role Amphibious warfare
Size 28,000
Part of Ministry of National Defense
Garrison/HQ Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province, South Korea
Nickname(s) 무적 해병
(無敵海兵, Invincible Marines)
귀신잡는 해병대
(Marines the Devil-Capturers)
Motto(s) 한번 해병은 영원한 해병
(Once marine, always marine)
작지만 강한 해병대
(Small but Tough Marines)
Mascot(s) Jindo Dog
Engagements Korean War
Vietnam War
Global War on Terrorism
Lieutenant General Lee Ho-yeon, ROKMC

The Republic of Korea Marine Corps (ROKMC; Korean: 대한민국 해병대; Hanja: 大韓民國海兵隊; Revised Romanization: Daehanminguk Haebyeongdae), also known as the ROK Marine Corps, or the ROK Marines, is the marine corps of South Korea. Though theoretically it is under the direction of the South Korean Chief of Naval Operations, the ROK Marine Corps operates as a distinct arm of the South Korean Armed Forces, unlike the marine corps of most other countries, which generally operate as part of a navy. The ROKMC was founded as a reconnaissance force just prior to the start of the Korean War. The ROKMC also saw combat during the Vietnam War, while stationed in Da Nang, occasionally fighting alongside U.S. Marines and U.S. Navy SEALs.

The marine corps, with 25,000 personnel, is organized into two divisions and one brigade under the Marine Corps Command. To execute amphibious operations it possesses a range of amphibious equipment such as amphibious vehicles, as well as its own means of fire support.


Founding years

On April 15, 1949, the Republic of Korea Marine Corps (ROKMC) was founded in Deoksan airfield in Jinhae with an initial strength of 380 men and was modeled around the United States Marine Corps. Lieutenant Colonel Shin Hyun-joon was appointed to lead as first Commandant of the newly formed Marine Corps and as Commandant was promoted to Colonel on July 1, 1949.[1] The ROKMC troops were issued with many leftover weapons from the Imperial Japanese Army used during World War II, including the 7.7 mm Type 99 Light Machine Gun. The Marine Corps carried out suppression operations against communist elements in Jinju and Jeju-do;[2] ROKMC saw combat actions in the Korean War, including the Battle of Incheon.

Vietnam War

At the request of the United States, South Korean President Park Chung Hee of agreed to send military units into Vietnam, despite opposition from both the Assembly and the public. In exchange, the United States agreed to provide additional military funds to South Korea to help modernize its armed forces, totaling about a billion dollars.

The three main units deployed to Vietnam were the ROKMC's Blue Dragon Brigade (Korean language: 청룡

靑龍; Cheongryeong), ROKA Capital Division and the White Horse Division. Various South Korean special forces units were also deployed.

The Republic of Korea Army's Tactical Area of Responsibility was the southern half of the I Corps. The ROKMC was deployed with the I Corps, alongside U.S. Marines.

The garrison of ROKMC in Vietnam, however, led to some controversial events during the war, including Phong Nhi and Phong Nhat massacre, Ha My Massacre, and the problems of Lai Đại Hàn (Vietnamese-Korean multiracials).


In 1973, once a separate branch of the ROK Armed Forces, the ROKMC became a part of the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN). In 1974, 1st Marine Division Commander Lee Dong-Yong made infantry regiment to specialize its each of 3 battalion to Airborne/Amphibious Infiltration/Ranger. Such system spread to whole ROKMC.


In 1982, ROKMC established '812 "Hammer" Unit'. Their mission was to perform retaliation operations against DPRK. 300 agents passed Hammer Unit training and 198 of them performed actual infiltration & observation operations. The unit's motto was 'Kill them all, Leave judgement to God'. Their training included 10 km mountain run in an hour with full kit and carrying 100 kg boat over head of 6~7 marines. Training also included 12 km continuous sea swimming. 10 marines died from mental disorder after discharge and 3 are still suffering. Defense Department admits the existence of 812 hammer unit but since their mission record is not existing, it's hard to compensate for damage of marines.[3]

The Headquarters of the Republic of Korea Marine Corps was re-established in 1987.

ROKMC boarding the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2).


On November 23, 2010, Bombardment of Yeonpyeong happened. There was an engagement between DPRK Army and ROKMC YP unit.

By result of this event, ROK government canceled its Military Reform Plan 2020 which was to downsizing scale of Marine Corps in North-West islands. Instead, ROK government established Military Reform Plan 307 (Plan 307).

Plan 307 effected ROKMC by deploying new ARTHUR artillery hunting radar to North-West islands till February 2012.[4]

With Plan 307, North-West Islands Defense Command (NWIDC) was established on June 15, 2011.[5] ROKMC commander holds an additional position as NWIDC commander. With NWIDC, ROKMC commander can command Army, Navy, Airforce under NWIDC branch in actual combat situation.[6]

Plan 307 also includes a plan to fortifying all 5 islands in North-West sea area until 2015 with constructing bunkers for tanks, K-9 Thunder, K-10 ARV and civilians, making trenches, establishing Guided-Missile unit which is equipped with 60 Spike missiles and 4 launchers,[7][8] deploying Hostile Artillery Locating System (HALO) which is manufactured by Selex Galileo company, creating AH-1S Cobra unit under 6th Marine Brigade in Baengnyeongdo,[9] increasing size of artillery unit in Yeonpyeong from company to battalion which changed their number of K-9 Thunder from 6 to 18,[10] deploying K-SAM Chunma and K-136 multiple rocket launcher to North-West islands and increasing numbers of marines in North-West islands by more than 1000.[11]

On June 23, 2011, the South Korean National Assembly legislated a law that is stating the right of personnel management can be exercised by ROKMC commander not by ROKN commander(Until 2011, ROKN commander exercised the right), legislating ROKMC deputy commander, dividing and specifying ROKMC's main operation as 'amphibious operations' from ROKN 'sea operations', including ROKMC commander as formal member of joint chiefs of staff council, legislating ROKMC commander as member of Defense Project Promotion Committee, giving right to select uniform from ROKN commander to ROKMC commander and making ROKMC commander to exercise the right of the Management of Military Supplies of ROKMC.[12][13]

By dividing ROKMC's main operation from ROKN, ROKMC made a stepping-stone to become a National Strategic Mobile Force.

On October 15, 2011, The law mentioned above took effect. ROKMC got their record of service back from ROKN on October 13. ROKMC started to supply new uniform from October 1. ROKMC used to wear their own uniform different from others before 1973, but after ROKMC HQ were dissolved, ROK Marines had to wear the uniform that is same with others. This new uniform is different from new uniform of Army, Navy, AirForce (These 3 forces use same uniform). The new uniform was designed to guarantee marines to survive in amphibious operations by using colors of beach, sand and seaweeds.[14]

On June 4, 2012, Ministry of National Defense confirmed a plan to distribute 32 amphibious mobile helicopters to ROKMC. ROKMC scheduled to establish aviation group in 2017~2020 with 2 amphibious mobile helicopter battalions and 1 attack helicopter battalion with Colonel in chief.[15]


The ROKMC has approximately 28,000 personnel, and is organized into two divisions and one brigade under Headquarters Republic of Korea Marine Corps and primarily dedicated to protecting the nation's islands.

It has such responsibilities as landing operations, accomplished in coordination with the ROKN using landing craft, surface fleets and aircraft. The ROKMC has the ability to accomplish a variety of missions including ground battles, special fighting scenarios, facility protection and security services. To execute amphibious operations, it possesses a range of amphibious equipment, including amphibious vehicles, as well as its own means of fire support. A major naval evolution during Foal Eagle 2000, an annual combined U.S. and Republic of Korea (ROK) exercise, was an amphibious assault launched by U.S. and ROK Marines from U.S. Navy ships belonging to 7th Fleet's permanently forward-deployed Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) based in Japan.


Order of battle

Republic of Korea Marine Corps Structure

  • Headquarters Republic of Korea Marine Corps (대한민국 해병대사령부)
  • Yeonpyeong Unit (Dinosaur, 연평부대)
  • 90th Marine Battalion
  • 9th Marine Artillery Battalion: equipped K-9 Thunder / K-10 ARV
  • U-do Garrison
  • Education and Training Group (교육훈련단)
  • Amphibious Support Group (상륙지원단)
  • 1st Marine Division (Sea-Dragon, 1해병사단)
  • 1st Tank Battalion: equipped K1 MBT
  • 1st Assault Amphibian Vehicle Battalion: equipped KAAV7A1
  • 1st Reconnaissance Battalion
  • 1st Engineer Battalion
  • 1st Support Battalion
  • 2nd Marine Regiment (Yellow-Dragon)
  • 3rd Marine Regiment (King-Kong)
  • 7th Marine Regiment (Warthog)
  • 1st Marine Artillery Regiment (Phoenix) : equipped K55 SPH / KH179 TH
  • 2nd Tank Battalion: equipped M48A3K
  • 2nd Assault Amphibian Vehicle Battalion: equipped KAAV7A1
  • 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion
  • 2nd Engineer Battalion
  • 2nd Support Battalion
  • 1st Marine Regiment
  • 5th Marine Regiment
  • 8th Marine Regiment
  • 2nd Marine Artillery Regiment: equipped K55 SPH / KH179 TH
  • 6th Marine Brigade (Black-Dragon, 6해병여단) HQ Kumhwa
  • 6th Amphibious Reconnaissance Company
  • 5 Island Garrisons in the West Sea


Acquisition plans are tied to Army procurement and focus on increasing tactical mobility, firepower, and command and control.

Until the mid-1990s, the ROKMC fleet of Amphibious Vehicles consisted of 61 Landing Vehicles Tracked (LVT) and 42 AAV7A1. In the early 1980s all Amtracs in USMC service were modified to LVTP7A1 standard, but original variant remained for many more years in service. In an effort to replace the LVTs, the ROKMC undertook a 57 AAV7A1 co-production contract, later increased with an additional 67 additional AAV7A1 vehicles. Since 1998, South Korea had deployed these 124 new vehicles to bolster its defenses against North Korea as well as replace its aging fleet.

The Marine Corps has no aircraft of its own, relying on air support from the Army and Navy. The service plans to create an aviation brigade with transport and KAI Surion attack helicopters by 2015. To strengthen its intelligence-gathering and surveillance capabilities, the service also is considering deploying unmanned aerial surveillance vehicles.

M48A3K Main Battle Tanks tanks are being replaced by around 50-60 K1A1 tanks. To support the force K-55 self-propelled howtizers and KH-179 towed howtizers are used.

See also


External links

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