The navy, a separate branch of the KPA, is headquartered at
P'yongyang. In 1992 the 40,000 to 60,000-person brown-water navy
was primarily a coastal defense force. The navy is capable of
conducting inshore defensive operations, submarine operations
against merchant shipping and unsophisticated naval combatants,
offensive and defensive mining operations, and conventional
raids. Because of the general imbalance of ship types, the navy
has a limited capability to carry out missions such as sea
control or denial and antisubmarine operations.
The primary offensive mission of the navy is supporting army
actions against South Korea, particularly by inserting smallscale amphibious operations--SOF units--along the coast. The navy
also has a limited capability to conduct rocket and shore
bombardment raids against selected coastal targets. However, any
North Korean force attempting to engage in these operations would
be at risk from both air and surface combatants because of
limited air defense and detection capabilities.
In mid-1993 the navy seldom operated outside the North Korean
military exclusion zone, a zone extending some fifty kilometers
off North Korea's coast from which it sought to exclude
operations by any other navy. Although seaborne infiltration
attempts into South Korea are believed to have been stopped by
the 1990s, testimony of North Korean spies apprehended by South
Korea in early 1992 indicated successful infiltration continues.
Clashes with the South Korean navy and harassment of South Korean
fishing boats once occurred with regularity, but such incidents
were rare in as of mid-1993.
Data as of June 1993