Republic of Korea ArmyThe Republic of Korea Army is the senior branch of the armed forces. Its size of 600,000 is understandable because any North Korean Zerg Rush to the south is complete trouble. South Korean Army troops are known to be a Badass Army; in Vietnam, both the Americans and Vietnamese from both sides respected the ROKA because their tactics seemed to work better than those of either of the U.S. or the South Vietnamese. South Korea has mandatory military conscription - every Korean male, with very few exceptions, serves about 2 years in the military after graduation. The ROKA currently fields the K1 tank, which is as good as the M1 Abrams tank according to its creators, and the K200 and K21 series armored personnel carriers. Bizarrely enough, they also have 35 T-80 tanks and 70 BMP-3 armored personnel carriers that were given as part of a payment of debts the Russians owed them.
Republic of Korea NavyThe Republic of Korea Navy is the naval branch of the ROK armed forces. Many ROK navy men revere Admiral Yi Sun Shin, who in the 16th century whacked a Japanese invasion fleet with his Turtle Boats, the world's first ironclads (according to some). The South Korean navy is currently building up its forces, having already introduced into service an amphibious assault ship/light carrier and several modern AEGIS-capable destroyers, to make it a blue-water navy in 2020 like that of its eastern neighbor and rival.
Republic of Korea Air ForceThe ROK Air Force is the air arm of the Korean armed forces. It has 600 American-designed planes, most of them F-4 Phantom IIs, F-5 Tiger IIs, and F-16 Fighting Falcons, but it is currently including the F-15E Strike Eagle and the T-50 Golden Eagle (unrelated to the former) trainer/attack fighter. The ROK Air Force wants to have JDAM bombs and attack drones so that their aircraft have better Macross Missile Massacre ability. Currently, they are designing their answer to the F-22, though it seems to be in Development Hell.
Republic of Korea MarinesThe Trope Namer, the ROKMAR, although theoretically under the direction of the Chief of Naval Operations, operates as a distinct arm of the military of South Korea. It has a Badass reputation; during the Korean and Vietnam Wars, they were so successful in fishing out North Korean and Vietcong guerrillas that they earned the nickname "Ghost-Catching Marines." One example in Korea is that a squad of ROK Marines had almost decimated an entire North Korean battalion. In Vietnam, the Vietcong and the NVA dreaded fighting Korean Marines; one battle involved 300 South Koreans successfully fending off an entire North Vietnamese brigade with minimal casualties. They were famous for their special style of combat, and ROK commandos sometimes killed Vietcong with karate chops in close-up fights. By comparison, American soldiers in Vietnam had a lower kill ratio than the Koreans, serving only to further their reputation as badasses around the world.
KATUSA: Korean Augmentation To the United States ArmyEagle Squadron, except that they serve with U.S. Forces in South Korea. Young Korean men have to pass English proficiency tests then are selected by lottery for training. After training, they serve with U.S. units in Korea. Many families would like to see their sons enter the KATUSA program because of the ROK Army and Marines training from hell/Spartan Way. KATUSA soldiers do enjoy their time with U.S. units. However if they fail a PT test or violate U.S. and ROK military regulations they get sent back to a ROK Army unit.
OPCONAfter the Armistice in 1953 which paused the Korean War, the United Nations Command (UNC), the multinational agency created by the UN and placed under American command eventually wound down its mission as the contributing nations withdrew their forces. The United States and South Korea signed a military alliance later and a status of forces agreement to keep American troops in the country under the auspices of US Forces-Korea (USFK). Combined Forces Command (CFC) was created by the ROK and the United States later in 1978, totally separate from the United Nations Command, by which time the United States was the only foreign country with a significant military presence on the Korean peninsula. CFC is headed by an American four star officer (and dual hatting with USFK, rather like how NATO's Supreme Commander is also commanding officer of US European Command) with an ROK officer as deputy. In the event of war on the Korean Peninsula (most likely the Korean War unpausing), the defense of South Korea would be coordinated from CFC, meaning that all South Korean forces will be commanded by an American officer. UNC exists to this day but as an entity devoid of muscle but it could be reactivated in the event other countries wish to commit their forces to help in the defense of South Korea. Components of UNC remain functional such as UNC Rear based at Yokota airbase, Japan. It is through the UNC where member countries send troops to train with South Korean forces. The CFC arrangement has caused resentment in South Koreans because the officer who would lead their armies to war answers to the Pentagon, not Seoul. This put the United States in a unpopular position when it was perceived to be supporting South Korea's intelligence chief and strongman, Lt General Chun Doo-hwan, during the 1980 crackdown at Gwangju. In 1994 South Korea's government assumed all responsibility for its own military's affairs during peacetime. In the event of war however, operational control (OPCON) however falls to CFC. All ROK military deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq were undertaken on the initiative of its government and OPCON of their forces fell to ISAF (NATO) or Multinational Force-Iraq (USCENTCOM) respectively, not CFC. There has been recent debate within South Korea, whether it should retain total OPCON in the event of war on the Korean Peninsular, thus ending the need for CFC. The government of Park Geun-hye postponed a decision on the matter which was due at the end of 2014. The debate is contentious, but it is substantially less acrimonious than it has been in past years, in large part because of the increasingly positive opinion the Korean public has for the US (as recently as the early 2000s, (South) Korean public opinion consistently hovered in the 60-70% anti-US range, while at present that's almost reversed and South Koreans are among the most pro-American people in East Asia, although not quite so much as the Filipinos and—oddly—the Vietnamese).
Examples in fiction:Film
- Featured prominently in the Korean War film Taegukgi.
- Also the subject of the Korean movie Joint Security Area.
- Korean soldiers are the main characters in two Korean horror movies directed by Kong Su-Chang. R-Point, set in Vietnam during the Vietnam War and The Guard Post, set on the DMZ in modern day Korea. The Other Wiki has detailed synopses of both.
- The James Bond movie Die Another Day was criticized by South Koreans as they were were offended by the scene in which an American officer issues orders to the South Korean army in the defense of their homeland.
- The Dale Brown novel Battle Born, involving a Second Korean War.
- Play a large role in the Larry Bond novel Red Phoenix, where an ROK liaison officer is one of the two survivors of one of the opening attacks in a Second Korean War.
- An episode of The Unit is set on a South Korean submarine.
- Every so often, ROK military personnel show up in, well, Mash.
- The South Korean Army appears in Mercenaries as one of the factions invading North Korea. They are depicted as being supported by the American CIA, and are equipped at the same level as the Allied Nations expedition.
- ROK forces are a thorn in your side in the Soviet Campaign of Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2, conducting a raid on the Russian Far East and screwing up your invasion of Hawaii. They also get quite possibly the most awesome special unit on the Allied side in multiplayer/skirmish mode: the Black Eagle, a better version of the usual Allied Harrier fighter plane.
- South Korean soldiers appear in the Seoul mission in Splinter Cell Chaos Theory. Notably, they are just as hostile to Sam as North Korean soldiers are, if only because a guy in a full black suit with guns and tools strapped all over sneaking around an active warzone would look pretty suspicious to anyone.
- The ROK Armed Forces make their debut in the third Wargame installment, Red Dragon, joining the NATO side along with Japan and ANZAC.
<<|Forces with Firepower|>> <<|South Korea|>>