Military Policy

    Self Defense

    All North Korean military planning is geared toward maintaining a decisive advantage over the south and a militaristic society ready for full mobilization at a moment's notice. The nation must be able to conduct a war on its own (with no outside assistance, i.e., other socialist countries). It is a strategy best expressed in the motto [National Defense by Self-Defense], a adaptation of a military tenet clearly expressed by Article 60 of the constitution: "Defensive preparations are to begin with political indoctrination of the armed forces and the people, and will proceed from that base into total armament, total fortification, total preparations for command, and total modernization. The term to Kim Il-sung, is to "rejuvenate oneself by fostering a revolutionary spirit and defending the nation with one's own revolutionary armaments, and resolving all military issues with one's own powers in accordance with one's own circumstances".

    The Four Militarizations

    Shifting international dynamics as characterized by the Cuban Missile Crisis and the border clashes between China and the Soviet Union forced North Korean planners to reassess their policies of dependence, and adopt a 'military first' strategy at the Fifth Plenary Session of the Fourth Meeting of the Party Central Committee (Dec. 1962). The main discussion topic for policymakers was "strengthening defense for changing circumstances", and they agreed to "fortify our defenses at the cost of limiting economic development". The guiding principle of the policy drew heavily upon the lessons of the Korean War, and geographic circumstances of the Korean peninsula were taken into consideration, and it became the cornerstone of North Korean military strategy known as . According to the plan, the working masses themselves are to be armed to the teeth, both politically and militarily, to realize [Total Armament], the first part of the plan. Second, the country's geography must be utilized for military advantage, with construction of tunnels and military facilities wherever possible, to transform the entire country into a fortress - No. 2 . Third, every member of the armed forces must be prepared to take on the role of one's superior in a contingency - [Total Preparations for Command]. The armed forces must be given the best and the newest equipment, and knowledge and training to handle the equipment and modern tactics - [Total Modernization].

    Military Policy through the Ages

    The military preparations delineated in the [Four Militarizations] required the North Korean state to create a stockpile of war materiel such as explosives, petroleum, and rations sufficient to last three months in case of war without increased supply. The measure resulted in a concomitant increase in military expenditure, and creation of special guerilla units such as the as well as its own munitions industry. Collective security was also strengthened based on the framework of a mutual security cooperation treaty signed with both the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China.

    Enough improvement in military preparation did result from this for Kim Il-sung to confidently declare, "The Four Militarizations have put a rifle around the shoulder of every citizen, fortified every part of the country, and we now have our own factories for our own supply of modern weaponry" at the Fifth Party Congress in Nov. 1970.

    There was a slight but very significant shift towards first-strike capability in the seventies. North Korean forces were trained for both intense battles and guerilla warfare. Dozens of underground tunnels for troop transport were constructed under the DMZ, and the age limit for reserve service in the Peasant-Worker Red Guard Militia was extended to sixty. Kim Il-sung again declared the 'self-defense' line had succeeded in creating a 'strong national defense' at the Sixth Worker's Party Congress in Oct. 1980. He then announced [strengthening of the Singular Theory] among troopers and [reinforcing preparations for actual battle] as the most pressing tasks for the military.

    The north's potential for a surprise attack was increased with the creation of mechanized units, and discipline and training in the militias were brought up to par with regular troops for effective mobilization. The DPRK also developed and improved on modern weaponry such as the Scud ballistic missiles, as the [Four Militarizations] still guide military policy to this very day.

    The collapse of the socialist bloc has prompted the North's military planners to 'imbue the armed forces with Juche,' as they feel greater need for political indoctrination in a rapidly changing world. In addition, Kim Jong-il's ascension to the position of Supreme Commander of KPA (Dec. 1991) and the Chairman of the National Defense Committee (April 1993) increased the political necessity of finalizing his grip on military power. For this reason, materiel and other support for the military has actually increased in spite of the economic hardship, and the military has priority of access to all resources of the country. Kim Jong-il has praised the armed forces as an organization that "embodies the essence of the people, the party, and the state", and has given the military full hand in the management of the present crisis, even to the point of maintaining public order".