The Evolution of North Korean Military Thought
North Korean military doctrine has evolved through as many as
four stages since the founding of the KPA in February 1948. North
Korean military writings derive from Marxism-Leninism through the
conduit of "Kim Il Sung Thought." Kim Il Sung is credited with
virtually everything in North Korean military thought, from
Lenin's reformulation of Clausewitz's classic definition of war
to basic squad tactics.
North Korean military thinking began as a mixture of Soviet
strategic and Chinese tactical influences. At the Third Plenum of
the Second KWP Central Committee in December 1950, Kim Il Sung's
report, "The Present Condition and the Confronting Task," for the
first time interjected North Korean combat experience into
military doctrine and thought. From 1951 to December 1962, North
Korean military orthodoxy was a conventional warfare doctrine
based on Soviet military doctrine and operational art modified on
the basis of the Korean War experience. This duality is readily
acknowledged in official publications such as the KWP journal,
K lloja (The Worker). Stalin's five "permanently operating
factors," factors that determine the course and outcome of war,
were directly incorporated into North Korean military doctrine.
The factors are the stability of the rear, the morale of the
army, the quantity and quality of divisions, the armament of the
army, and the organizing ability of the command personnel. The
importance of combined arms operations (armor, infantry, and
artillery operating in close coordination) also reflects strong
North Korean military doctrine shifted dramatically in
December 1962 away from the doctrine of regular warfare to a
doctrine that embraced people's war. At the Fifth Plenum of the
Fourth KWP Central Committee in December 1962, Kim Il Sung
espoused the Four Military Guidelines: to arm the entire
population; to fortify the entire country; to train the entire
army as a "cadre army"; and to modernize weaponry, doctrine, and
tactics under the principle of self-reliance in national defense.
The adoption of this military line signaled a shift from a
Soviet-style strategy to a Maoist protracted war of attrition.
Conventional warfare strategy was incorporated into and
subordinated to the overall concept of people's war and the
mobilization of the entire people through reinforcement of
ideological training. These principles are formally adopted in
Article 60 of the 1992 constitution.
The shift supplies the doctrinal basis for North Korea's
strategy of covert infiltrations into South Korea,
assassinations, and attempts at fostering insurgencies in South
Korea during the late 1960s. During this period, doctrine also
began to stress the need to adapt these concepts to the North
Korean situation. Military thinking emphasized the necessity of
light weapons, high angle indirect fire, and night fighting.
Renewed emphasis was given to sea denial and coastal defense
during this period.
Data as of June 1993