Comparison of North Korean and South Korean Militaries

Comparison of North Korea and South Korea Militaries, or, a Real Waste for Both of Their Countries

In my attitudes, I don’t know if I am a pacifist, or a humanitarian, or a utilitarian, but I think that the human and economic costs of their useless state of war evokes the greatest sympathies. It is also hard to imagine that since the Korean war of 1950-53, and covering three generations, and tremendous economic growth of China and South Korea, and persistent growth in nuclear weapons and missiles for North Korea, that the war situation has not resolved, but only escalated to nuclear potentialities. Throw into this a 69 year, three generation dictatorial dynasty of Kim Ils that have held back North Korea’s economic growth and freedom. Then the emergence of two leaders in the US and North Korea, that are considered questionable or scary in their restraints on the use of military power. Could Shakespeare have written a sadder tragedy? And are we approaching the final act?

In the West, and maybe even in China, North Korea is seen as a rogue nation, an evil empire, with unstable, suicidal leadership, which is willing to do anything to save their dynasty and regime. We do not comprehend if they are acting out of real fears, which we don’t consider justifiable, and at the same time respond with equally threatening reminders of our challenges to them. We think that their population is following their leaders out of controlled information and educational indoctrination, as well as multigenerational punishments for questioners. We find it hard to believe that their endgame is nuclear destruction of their past and present enemies, even though we have had decades of little actual damages. Yet the rhetoric of military threats is peaking, with none of the antagonists offering olive branches.

For the North Korean military, they have 1.2 million active duty, 0.6 million in reserves, and 5.9 million paramilitary, or one quarter of the population. The military budget of $10 billion is 25% of North Korea’s GDP(PPP). Two thirds of a million soldiers are on the DMZ. The seventeen year old conscripted males have 10 years of service ahead of them and are encouraged to volunteer for another year. Females now have to serve seven years until they are 23. This is because of starvation in the 1990’s, and withholding or rations, when North Korea lost 22 million, or about the present population, and now has less youth to fill the ranks.

North Korea has 40 subs, 4,000 tanks, 2,00 Armored Personnel Carriers, 8,500 artillery, and 5,000 rocket launchers. Their 1,850 aircraft includes 730 combat aircraft, which include 500 fighters and 200 bombers. They have 700 long range artillery aimed at Seoul, which is near the DMZ.

A former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory said that North Korea has fissile material for 20-25 nuclear weapons, and produces material for another six to seven a year. They are close to a hydrogen bomb, with 1,000 times the power of their present nuclear weapons.

South Korea has 625,000 active duty, with 3.1 million in the reserves. They males have mandatory service from age 20 to 38. Conscription is from 21 to 24 months.. The military budget is 2.4% of the GDP, or $30 billion. They have 6,000 tanks and APCs, 11,000 artillery, and 7,000 missile defenses. South Korea has newer equipment, in general, compared to North Korea.
Twenty six million South Koreans live in the Seoul metropolitan area, which is only 35 miles from the DMZ.

About Dennis SILVERMAN

I am a retired Professor of Physics and Astronomy at U C Irvine. For a decade I have been active in learning about energy and the environment, and in lecturing and attending classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UC Irvine.
This entry was posted in Korean Militaries, North Korea Nuclear Threat, Nuclear Weapons, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply