Unit Details

Republic of Korea Marine Corps

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Republic of Korea Marine Corps
대한민국 해병대
Daehanminguk Haebyeongdae
Seal of the Republic of Korea Marine Corps.svg    Seal of the Republic of Korea Marine Corps.svg
Seal of the Republic of Korea Marine Corps
Active April 15, 1949 (1949-04-15) October 10, 1973 (1973-10-10)
November 1, 1987 (1987-11-01) present
Country  South Korea
Type Marine corps, naval infantry
Role Amphibious warfare
Size 29,000 (as of 2014)
Part of Republic of Korea Navy
Garrison/HQ Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province, South Korea
Nickname(s) 무적 해병
(無敵海兵, Invincible Marines)
귀신잡는 해병대
(Marine Corps: The Devil Catchers)
Motto(s) 한번 해병은 영원한 해병
(Once a Marine, Always a Marine)
Mascot(s) Jindo Dog
Engagements Korean War
Vietnam War
Global War on Terrorism
Lieutenant General Lee Sang-hoon, ROKMC
Flag Flag of the Republic of Korea Marine Corps.svg

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(Korean:-{대한민국 해군작전사령부}-), 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 suppression operations force against communist partisans 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 the U.S. Marines.


Founding years

On April 15, 1949, the Republic of Korea Marine Corps (ROKMC) was founded at 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 the first Commandant of the newly formed Marine Corps and he was promoted to Colonel on July 1, 1949. The ROKMC troops were issued with many secondhand 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. The ROKMC saw combat actions in the Korean War, including the Battle of Incheon.


Activated in 1949 by the Republic of Korea, the unit took part in anti-guerrilla operations until the NKPA invasion. After the outbreak of hostilities, the KMCs fought creditably in UN delaying actions in southwest Korea. The turning point came when they were attached to the 1st Marine Division and sent to Pusan for test-firing of their new weapons before embarking for Inch'ŏn. Immediately the Koreans commenced to model themselves after U.S. Marines so assiduously as to win respect for their spirit and rugged fighting qualities.[3] They were quick to learn, despite the language handicap, and showed aptitude in mechanical respects.