Factbox: Military forces on the Korean peninsula

(BestGrowthStock) – North Korea fired artillery shells at a small island in the South on Tuesday, killing two soldiers, injuring about 20 people and setting houses on fire just 120 km (75 miles) west of the capital Seoul.

South Korea’s military returned fire and scrambled a fighter jet in response to the attack, which drew calls for restraint from Beijing, Washington and Moscow.

Following are details on the armed forces in North and South Korea:


— North Korea has 1.19 million troops in active service, and more than 7.7 million reservists. It is one of the world’s most militarized countries and has a population of 23.4 million.

— South Korea has 687,000 troops on active duty, and about 4.5 million reserve forces. They are reinforced by 28,000 U.S. troops stationed in the South.


— North Korea has some 4,100 tanks and more than 2,500 armored personnel carriers. Much of the equipment is believed to be Soviet-era procurement and in need of upgrading. The T-54, the North’s main combat tank, began to be phased out by most other countries in the 1970s.

— North Korea also has more than 17,900 artillery pieces — including 4,400 self propelled, 2,500 multiple rocket launchers and 7,500 mortars.

— South Korea has 2,750 main battle tanks and 2,780 armored personnel carriers. It has 10,470 artillery pieces including 1,089 self propelled and 3,500 towed. South Korea has 185 multiple rocket launchers.

— Soviet-made MiGs make up the bulk of the North’s 620 air combat capable aircraft. The fleet is largely obsolete and not fit for modern combat. The South has about 490 combat aircraft.

— North Korea is believed to be steadily building its submarine fleet, with its 71 vessels outnumbering the South’s dozen or so. Its 420 warships also outnumber the South’s roughly 140 vessels, but the South has been adding powerful destroyers to its fleet.

— North Korea has limited fuel supplies, and relies heavily on China for its crude oil and gasoline.


— North Korea has more than 800 ballistic missiles and more than 1,000 missiles of various ranges. It has sold missiles and technology overseas, with Iran a top buyer. South Korea is limited in pursuing missile development under a treaty with the United States but has recently deployed new long-range cruise missiles with a range of 1,500 km which can hit all of North Korea and also targets in China and Russia.


— North Korea is believed to have produced about 50 kg (110 lb) of plutonium, which experts say would be enough for six to eight nuclear weapons. North Korea’s last week disclosed the existence of an ultra-modern uranium enrichment facility. The reported sighting of more than 1,000 centrifuges at its main nuclear complex appears to confirm the impoverished North, which has a plutonium-based atomic program, is working to create a second source of arms-grade nuclear material. — It has twice conducted nuclear tests but has yet to show that it has a working nuclear bomb.

— South Korea, an advanced nuclear power state, does not have a nuclear arms program, although Washington has promised protection under its “nuclear umbrella.”


— The main frontline 2nd Infantry Division is armed with 140 M1A1 Abram battle tanks, 170 M2 Bradley Fighting vehicles, rocket launchers, tactical missiles, Patriot missile defense systems. The U.S. Air Force operates F-16 fighters, ground attack planes and three U-2 spy planes.

(Source: Reuters/South Korea’s Defence White Paper, globalsecurity.org/U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute, IISS 2010 Military Balance)

Factbox: Military forces on the Korean peninsula