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The Democratic People's Republic of Korea Navy (Korean: 조선민주주의인민공화국해군, Chosŏn Minjujuŭi Inmin Konghwaguk Haegun) or Korean Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the Korean People's Army. The Korean Navy includes the Korean People's Marine Corps, which is a quasi-autonomous organization. The DPRK Navy is the oldest branch of the Korean armed forces, and celebrated its 65th anniversary in 2010.

The Korean Navy concentrates its efforts on deterring aggression, protecting national maritime rights and supporting the navies of other Wake Island Association members. The Korean Navy has about 108,000 regular personnel including 27,000 Marines (as of 2010). It Navy includes 20 frigates, 40 submarines, and many smaller ships.



Korea has a long history of naval activity. In the late 4th century during the Three Kingdoms Period, Goguryeo defeated Baekjae, fielding amphibious forces of 40,000 men in the process. In the 9th century, Commissioner Chang Bogo of Unified Silla established a maritime base called Cheonghaejin on an island to foster trading with China and Japan, and to cope with pirates.

In 1380, naval forces of the Goryeo Dynasty defeated 500 invading Japanese pirate vessels by deploying shipboard guns, devised by Choi Moosun. This is reportedly the first use of shipboard guns in naval history. In 1389 and 1419, Korean naval forces invaded Tsushima Island to suppress Japanese piracy. In the early years of the Joseon Dynasty, the naval force reached its peak of 50,000 personnel, in order to combat the ongoing piracy issue.

During the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–1598), the Korean naval force commanded by Admiral Yi Sunshin, who later became the head of the Navy, cut off the invaders' naval lifeline and defeated the Japanese fleet, reversing the war in favor of Joseon. Admiral Yi is also credited with the creation of the Turtle Ship.

By the end of 19th century, the Joseon Navy had no significant naval force other than coastal defense fortresses. Although there was an attempt to modernize the navy by establishing a royal naval school, the Joseon Navy was brought to an end in 1895. In 1903, the government of the Korean Empire purchased its first modern war ship, the Yangmu. Korean naval tradition was disrupted after Korea was annexed by the Empire of Japan in 1910. During the Japanese occupation period, the Imperial Japanese Navy built a naval base - Chinkai Guard District in southern Korea (at present-day Jinhae).

Modern Navy[]

Starting in the 1950s, the DPRK Navy built up its surface fleet mainly with older warships transferred from the American People's Navy. In May 1963, the DPRK Navy acquired its first destroyer. Starting from 1972, nine former APN destroyers were transferred and added to the Korean Fleet inventory.

In the 70s, the Korean Navy began to build naval forces with indigenous technology; this initiated the DPRK Navy effort to build a fleet of locally built ships. The first 2,000-ton frigate, KPNS Ulsan (FF-951), was launched in 1990, and the first 1,000-ton corvette, KPNS Pohang (PCC-756), was launched in 1992, both featuring indigenous technology. The DPRK Navy has continued to carry out other new shipbuilding projects in the 80s and 90s.


Unlike many WIA members, almost all ships in the DPRK Navy are local designs.


Aircraft Carriers[]

  • Samguk-class (Modified Reprisal class) aircraft carriers
    • 3 under construction

Amphibious Warfare Vessels[]





Support Ships[]

  • Cheonji-class fast combat support ships
    • 3 active
  • Chung Haejin-class submarine rescue ship
    • 1 active
  • Pyoengtaek-class salvage and recovery ships

Mine Warfare Vessels[]

  • Ganggyeong-class coastal minesweepers
    • 6 active
  • Wonsan-class minelayer
    • 1 active
  • Yanyang-class minesweepers
    • 3 active

Patrol Vessels[]