Unit Details

NKPA 5th Division


II Corps


5th KPA Division This Division was raised in January 1950 mainly from troops of Korean descent who had served with the 164th PLA Division. It consisted of the 10th, 11th, and 12th Infantry Regiments.


5th Division (North Korea)


Regiments 10, 11, 12

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5th Infantry Division
Active July 1949 -
Country Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Branch Army
Type Infantry

The 5th Infantry Division was a military formation of the Korean People's Army during the 20th century. It was activated at Nanam, North Korea, during the early part of August 1949, composed of Korean veterans of the Chinese Communist 8th Route Army’s 164th Division, which had been stationed in the old Manchurian capital city of Changchun until July 1949. All non-Korean troops of the 164th CCF Division were transferred to other Chinese Communist organizations in July 1949 and in their place, the division began to receive Korean soldiers from various other units of the Chinese Communist Forces. During the latter part of July 1949, the 164th Division, with a strength of approximately 7,500 men, was allegedly transferred by railroad from Changchun to Nanam, where it was integrated into the expanding North Korean Army and redesignated the 5th Division.[1][2]


Fbruary 1950

Around mid-February 1950 the Division began to receive new recruits, numbering approximately 1,000 men between the ages of 18 and 26 years, until it got up to full strength.

On June 19, 1950, leading elements of the division were said to have departed Nanam by rail for Yangyang, where they arrived by June 23; by June 25 the movement of the division’s combat elements had been completed. The 10th Regiment, which was the first to assemble at Yangyang, allegedly departed south immediately after its arrival and backpacked into the vicinity of the 38th Parallel. It was followed in short order by the other two infantry regiments and on the night of June 24, the 5th Division, with the exception of a few rear echelon units still en route, was reportedly deployed along the 38th Parallel south of Yangyang.

June 25, 1950
At approximately 0500 hours on June 25, 1950, the 5th Division lunged across the 38th Parallel in an offensive down the main road that parallels Korea's rugged east coast. The division's drive was allegedly supported by the 766th Independent Infantry Regiment, an organization with a strength of 1,500 men which appears to have been part of a larger amphibious force under the direct control of the North Korean Army's General headquarters in Pyongyang.



August 3

The 5th Division in two weeks of heavy battles forged its way toward Yŏngdök and finally captured the town on or about August 3, after sustaining prohibitive casualties. During the siege, the 10th Regiment allegedly pressed the attack from the west and fought its way into the outskirts two or three times, but was forced to withdraw each time under withering artillery and small-arms fire. In its drive on Yŏngdök the division is said to have been subjected to almost constant bombardment from UN aircraft and naval vessels; even at night the troops were apparently not given any respite, for prisoners complained that artillery opened up with heavy fire after the naval and air attacks ceased. To illustrate the terrific casualties that the division sustained in these battles, one POW related that in a single naval barrage 700 men were killed and huge stores of supplies and equipment were destroyed. Altogether the 5th Division is estimated to have suffered a 40% reduction in strength in the battle for Yŏngdök.

For the next few days the division remained in Yŏngdök to reorganize and receive replacements. Approximately 1,200 new men were reportedly assigned to the three infantry regiments, bringing them up to about 50% of strength. These replacements were all North Koreans with about three weeks training who had been marching for fully 15 days before joining the division.


45 August

 A tabulation of estimated enemy strength by major units as of 5 August follows: [15-58]

Unit Strength
1st Division 5,000
2nd Division 7,500
3rd Division 6,000
4th Division 7,000
5th Division 6,000
6th Division 3,600
8th Division 8,000
12th Division 6,000
13th Division 9,500
15th Division 5,000
105th Armored Division (40 tanks) 3,000
83rd Motorized Regiment (detachedfrom 105th Armored Division) 1,000
766th Independent Infantry Regiment 1,500

No reliable figures are available for the number of enemy tanks destroyed and for tank troop casualties of the 105th Armored Division by 5 August, but certainly they were high. There were only a few tank replacements during July.

By August 12, the 5th Division had pressed to Pohang-dong and also threatened Yonil Airfield. The Division had cut off the ROK 3rd Division above Pohang-dong, and the 3rd Division had to be evacuated by sea to positions farther south.[3] After a two-day artillery barrage, the division purportedly attacked Pohang-dong with all three regiments committed, and occupied the town on August 20, 1950, after a fierce engagement that resulted in heavy casualties, most of which were caused by intense artillery fire. While in the city, the troops are reported to have been subjected to constant air and artillery bombardment. On or about August 23, 1950, American and ROK troops launched a counterattack, which forced the division to withdraw about 5 miles to the north and received such heavy casualties that its strength was reduced to about 4,000 men. From August 23 to September 3, the division reportedly remained in defensive positions just north of Pohang-dong. During this period approximately 3,000 replacements were received, most of whom were conscripted from South Korea and assigned to the division without any previous military training. Because of the general shortage of weapons, many of these men were only issued grenades and instructed to pick up the rifles of their comrades as they fell on the battlefield.

On September 3, the division resumed its attack with the objective of taking Pohang-dong and the Yonil Airfield south of the town. By the following day the 5th Division succeeded in breaking through the outer defenses of UN forces and fought ferociously through a hail of artillery and small-arms fire. They finally entered the town on September 6, but before they could consolidate their gains the UN forces counterattacked and once again forced the division to withdraw and take up defensive positions just north of the town. For several days they fought an artillery duel and sent out combat patrols. Late in the evening of the September 11, the division advanced toward the southwest, skirting the outer fringes of the UN defenses, and deployed along the high ground overlooking Pohang-dong for another assault on the town. The 11th and 12th Regiments were poised foro an attack from the west, while the 10th Regiment occupied assault positions approximately 2.5 miles southwest of Pohang-dong. During the night large amounts of ammunition were carried to gun positions and last-minute preparations were made. On September 12, 1950, UN forces began laying a heavy artillery concentration on positions held by the 10th Regiment and later in the day the 11th and 12th Regiments were likewise engaged by artillery. Soon after, all three regiments were attacked heavily by UN aircraft which wrought considerable damage and disrupted all plans for the attack.

Beginning on September 14, 1950, the division was ordered to withdraw from their heavily-shelled positions and to regroup in the vicinity of Chongha. When the last elements had withdrawn to the assembly area by September 16, the division was deployed along the Tosong-Dong-Chongha road in well dug-in positions designed primarily to afford protection against the dreaded air attacks which only the day before had blown up the entire ammunition dump of the division artillery. Since the division had been reduced to approximately 50% of its original strength by this time, it remained in this locality, reorganizing and receiving replacements totalling about 1,200 men. On September 21, 1950, the 5th Division was hit by the full weight of the all-out UN offensive launched in coordination with the successful amphibious operation at Inch'ŏn.

After the UN breakout from the Pusan Perimeter, fierce battles were fought in the harbor village of Pohang-dong between the ROK 3rd Division and the 5th Division. The 3rd finally captured the village during the morning of 20 September. They continued to attack aggressively, and on September 22, 1950, forced a disorderly withdrawal by the 5th toward Yŏngdök,[4] where they were once more taken under heavy fire by UN naval vessels. Under orders to withdraw farther north the division left Yŏngdök on about September 24 with a remaining strength of about 2,400 men. Marching in groups of platoon size and maintaining intervals of about 5 miles between regiments during daytime, the division retraced its route of advance along the coast and arrived at Anbyon on about November 3, 1950. While retreating, several bands of stragglers joined the column en route, boosting its strength to approximately 3,000 men.

On October 26, three battalions of the 5th Division had silently crept close to the hill positions of the 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, guarding a supply dump near Kojo. They attacked so swiftly at one platoon position that fifteen marines were killed there - seven in their sleeping bags. Before noon of the 28th, the 5th Division moved off west into the hills and the fight was over. The marines recovered their dead and counted their losses - 27 killed, 39 wounded and 3 missing.[5]

The division arrived in Cheongpyeong on November 8, 1950, and after joining forces with remnants of the 2nd Division, appears to have proceeded, through Hamhung where it swung inland, finally proceeding north along a road that parallels the Tabdong River. On November 18, elements of the greatly diminished 5th Division, with a remaining strength of only 500 troops were seen passing through Sachang-ni moving in a northerly direction.
[edit] Composition

The 5th Infantry Division was composed of the 10th Infantry Regiment, 11th Infantry Regiment, 12th Infantry Regiment, 5th Artillery Regiment and various unidentified support units.[6]

[edit] References

^ Korean People's Army - 5th Infantry Division
^ Appleman, Roy E. (1992) [1961]. "Armed Forces of North and South Korea, Chapter II". South to Naktong, North to the Yalu. United States Army in the Korean War. United States Army Center of Military History. pp. 9. CMH Pub 20-2-1. http://www.history.army.mil/books/korea/20-2-1/Sn02.htm.
^ The Korean War: The Outbreak. United States Army Center of Military History. CMH Pub 19-6. http://www.history.army.mil/brochures/KW-Outbreak/outbreak.htm.
^ . United States Army Center of Military History. The Korean War: The UN Offensive. CMH Pub 19-7. http://www.history.army.mil/brochures/kw-unoff/unoff.htm.
^ Appleman, Roy E. (1992) [1961]. "Chapter XXXVII: Guerrilla Warfare Behind the Front". South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu. United States Army in Korea. CMH Pub 20-2-1. http://www.history.army.mil/books/korea/20-2-1/sn37.htm.
^ North Korea Invades

June 25, 1950 0500

On the east coast across the high Taebaek Range from Inje, the last major concentration of North Korean troops awaited the attack hour. There the NKPA 5th Division, the 766th Independent Unit, and some guerrilla units were poised to cross the Parallel.

On the south side of the border the 10th Regiment of the ROK 8th Division held defensive positions.  But not quite, the division was scattered all over South Korea.

The ROK division headquarters was at Kangnung, some fifteen miles down the coast; the division's second regiment, the 21st, was stationed at Samch'ŏk, about twenty-five miles farther south.  Only a small part of the 21st Regiment actually was at Samch'ŏk on 25 June, however, as two of its battalions were engaged in anti-guerrilla action southward in the Taebaek Mountains. [03-35]

The division's 3rd regiment the 16th was assigned to the ROK 2nd Division at Taejŏn at this time.

[03-35] Interv, Sawyer with Col George D. Kessler, 24 Feb 54; ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 96 (NKPA 5th Div), p. 39; KMAG G-2 Unit Hist, 25 Jun 50.

About0500 Sunday morning, 25 June, Koreans awakened Maj. George D. Kessler, KMAG adviser to the ROK 10th Regiment, at Samch'ŏk and told him a heavy North Korean attack was in progress at the 38th Parallel. Within a few minutes word came that enemy troops were landing at two points along the coast nearby, above and below Samch'ŏk.

The commander of the 10th Regiment  and Major Kessler got into a jeep and drove up the coast. From a hilltop they saw junks and sampans lying offshore and what looked like a battalion of troops milling about on the coastal road.

 They drove back south, and below Samch'ŏk they saw much the same scene.

By the time the two officers returned to Samch'ŏk enemy craft were circling offshore there.

ROK soldiers brought up their antitank guns and opened fire on the craft. Kessler saw two boats sink. A landing at Samch'ŏk itself did not take place.

 These landings in the Samch'ŏk area were by guerrillas in the approximate strength of 400 above and 600 below the town. Their mission was to spread inland into the mountainous eastern part of Korea. [03-36]

[03-36] Interv, Sawyer with Kessler 24 Feb 54; 24th Div G-3 Jnl, 25 Jun 50; DA Wkly Intel Rpt, Nr 72, 7 Jul 50, p. 18.

Jun 25, 1950

Meanwhile, two battalions of the 766th Independent Unit had landed near Kangnung. Correlating their action with this landing, the NKPA 5th Division and remaining elements of the 766th Independent Unit crossed the Parallel with the 766th Independent Unit leading the attack southward down the coastal road. [03-37]

[03-37] ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 2 (Documentary Evidence of NKPA Aggression), pp. 46-50; Ibid., Issue 96 (NKPA 5th Div), p. 39; 24th Div G-3 Jnl, 25 Jun 50; DA Wkly Intel Rpt, Nr 72, 7 Jul 50, p. 18; KMAG G-2 Unit Hist, 25 Jun 50. According to North Korean Col. Lee Hak Ku, the 17th Motorcycle Regiment also moved to Kangnung but the terrain prevented its employment in the attack. See ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 9 (NKPA Forces), pp. 158-74, Nr 1468.


The 21st Infantry on 10 and 11 July north of Choch'iwŏn lost materiel and weapons sufficient to equip two rifle battalions and individual and organic clothing for 975 men.