What Role Did North Korea’s Army Play in the Korean War After Chinese Intervention?

9/10/2013 • Ask Mr. History

How large of a role did the North Korean army play in the Korean Conflict after the Chinese intervention?


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Dear AB,

If you were celebrating “Victory Day” in Pyongyang on July 27, you probably thought the North Korean People’s Army was still bearing the brunt of everything with a minor, token amount of help from a handful of Chinese volunteers. In reality, as of November 23, 1950, only the NKPA IV Corps was intact, with one division and two brigades facing the Republic of Korea I Corps in the northeast. The II Corps, in the central mountains where Kim Il-Sung had re-established his capital at Kanggye in north-central Korea, was essentially a guerrilla force. Three corps, consisting of nine divisions, were reorganizing in the mountains and three more were regrouping in Manchuria. China’s intervention, whether the North Koreans choose to acknowledge it or not, was crucial in buying them the time to resurrect the NKPA.

By 1952, the NKPA had regrouped and was again playing a significant role along the front. Depending on where they were stationed, some UN forces faced Chinese and others North Koreans, By the end of the war North Korea had committed 266,600 service personnel to combat, compared to 1,350,000 Chinese “volunteers” and 26,000 Soviet airmen and military advisors.



Jon Guttman
Research Director
World History Group
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