Comparative military ranks of Korea

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Comparative military ranks of Korea refer to the ranks and insignia maintained by the three primary military powers present on the Korean Peninsula, those being the Republic of Korea Armed Forces (South Korea), the Korean People's Army of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea), and the military forces of the United States in South Korea.

In the South Korean armed forces, ranks fall into one of four categories: commissioned officer, warrant officer, non-commissioned officer, and enlisted, in decreasing order of authority. Commissioned officer ranks are subdivided into "Janggwan"-level (general) officers, "Yeonggwan"-level (field-grade) officers, and "Wi-gwan"-level (company-grade) officers. The ranks of all three branches (the Army, Navy, and Air Force) of the South Korean Armed Forces share the same titles in Hangul. Most ranks of South and North Korea are identical, with some exceptions such as the supreme North Korean ranks.

The following table lists the comparative ranks of the militaries in Korea, including their rank titles and insignia. In this table, the North Korean military rank insignia shown is that of their Army field uniform shoulder boards; their parade uniforms and uniforms of other branches use alternative color schemes with the same basic design. The South Korean and U.S. militaries likewise have subdued versions of their insignia in each of their branches.

(Note on romanization: In the article, all South Korean ranks are spelled accordingly with the Revised Romanization of Korean system; all North Korean ranks use the McCune-Reischauer system.)

Special ranks

These ranks are honorary ranks and are not considered part of the main rank scheme.

North Korean rank North Korean insignia
대원수 Dae wonsu (Grand Marshal)[lower-alpha 1]
Generalissimo rank insignia North Korea-V.svg
공화국원수 Konghwaguk Wonsu (Marshal of the Republic)[lower-alpha 2]
Marshal of the DPRK rank insignia-V.svg

Officer ranks

The shoulder boards and sleeve stripes of American and South Korean ranks apply only to their navies. Neither the U.S. Marine Corps or ROK Marine Corps maintains a five star "General" rank. North Korea's People's Army does not maintain a separate marine corps or naval infantry branch as part of their armed forces, although it does maintain two "Amphibious Sniper Brigades" as part of the North Korean Special Operation Force (NKSOF). North Korean insignia follow the Soviet pattern, while South Korean insignia follow a mix of United States and British rank insignia traditions.

Army ranks

Equivalent NATO Code OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) and Student Officer
North Korea North Korea
(Edit)
File:Generalissimo Marshal of the DPRK
Marshal of the PKA
Vice Marshal
Captain General Superior General Middle General Junior General
Captain Commander
Superior Commander
Middle Commander
Junior Commander
Captain Lieutenant
Superior Lieutenant
Middle Lieutenant
Junior Lieutenant
Generalissimo
(대원수)
Marshal of the DPRK
(공화국원수)
Marshal of the KPA
(인민군원수)
Vice Marshal
(차수)
Army General
(대장)
Colonel General
(상장)
Lieutenant General
(중장)
Major General
(소장)
Senior Colonel
(대좌)
Colonel
(상좌)
Lieutenant Colonel
(중좌)
Major
(소좌)
Captain
(대위)
Senior Lieutenant
(상위)
Lieutenant
(중위)
Junior Lieutenant
(소위)


South Korea South Korea
(Edit)
Marshal of the RoK Superior General Middle General Junior General Lesser General
Superior Commander
Middle Commander
Junior Commander
Superior Lieutenant
Middle Lieutenant
Junior Lieutenant
Unknown
Marshal
(원수)
General
(대장)
Lieutenant General
(중장)
Major General
(소장)
Brigadier General
(준장)
Colonel
(대령)
Lieutenant Colonel
(중령)
Major
(소령)
Captain
(대위)
Lieutenant
(중위)
Junior Lieutenant
(소위)
Unknown


United States United States
(Edit)
General of the Army
General
Lieutenant General
Major General
Brigadier General
Colonel
Lieutenant Colonel
Major
Captain
First Lieutenant
Second Lieutenant
Various Various
General of the Army1 General Lieutenant General Major General Brigadier General Colonel Lieutenant Colonel Major Captain First Lieutenant Second Lieutenant Officer Candidate Officer Cadet

Air force ranks

Template:Ranks and Insignia of Non NATO Air Forces/OF/South Korea

Equivalent NATO Code OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) and Student Officer
United States United States
(Edit)
US-O11 insignia.svg US-O10 insignia.svg US-O9 insignia.svg US-O8 insignia.svg US-O7 insignia.svg US-O6 insignia.svg US-O5 insignia.svg US-O4 insignia.svg US-O3 insignia.svg US-O2 insignia.svg US-O1 insignia.svg Various Various
General of the Air Force1 General Lieutenant General Major General Brigadier General Colonel Lieutenant Colonel Major Captain First Lieutenant Second Lieutenant Officer Trainee Officer Cadet
Generals Officers
General of the Air Force rank insignia (North Korea).svg Colonel General of the Air Force rank insignia (North Korea).svg Lieutenant General of the Air Force rank insignia (North Korea).svg Major General of the Air Force rank insignia (North Korea).svg Senior Colonel of the Air Force rank insignia (North Korea).svg Colonel of the Air Force rank insignia (North Korea).svg Lieutenant Colonel of the Air Force rank insignia (North Korea).svg Major of the Air Force rank insignia (North Korea).svg Captain of the Air Force rank insignia (North Korea).svg Senior Lieutenant of the Air Force rank insignia (North Korea).svg Lieutenant of the Air Force rank insignia (North Korea).svg Junior Lieutenant of the Air Force rank insignia (North Korea).svg
Ranks in Korean Taejang
대장
Sangjang
상장
Chungjang
중장
Sojang
소장
Taejwa
대좌
Sangjwa
상좌
Chungjwa
중좌
Sojwa
소좌
Taewi
대위
Sangwi
상위
Chungwi
중위
Sowi
소위
Ranks General of the Air Force Colonel General Lieutenant General Major General Brigadier Colonel Lieutenant Colonel Major Captain First Lieutenant Second Lieutenant Third Lieutenant

Navy ranks

Template:Ranks and Insignia of Non NATO Navies/OF/South Korea

NATO Code OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) Student Officer

United States
(Edit)
US Navy O11 insignia.svg US Navy O10 insignia.svg US Navy O9 insignia.svg US Navy O8 insignia.svg US Navy O7 insignia.svg US Navy O6 insignia.svg US Navy O5 insignia.svg US Navy O4 insignia.svg US Navy O3 insignia.svg US Navy O2 insignia.svg US Navy O1 insignia.svg US Navy OC shoulderboard.svg various
Fleet Admiral Admiral Vice Admiral Rear Admiral Rear Admiral (lower half) Captain Commander Lieutenant Commander Lieutenant Lieutenant (junior grade) Ensign Midshipman/Officer Candidate
United States United States
(Marine Corps)

(Edit)
No equivalent US Marine 10 shoulderboard vertical.svg US Marine O9 shoulderboard vertical.svg US Marine O8 shoulderboard vertical.svg US Marine O7 shoulderboard vertical.svg US Marine O6 shoulderboard vertical.svg US Marine O5 shoulderboard vertical.svg US Marine O4 shoulderboard-2.svg US Marine O3 shoulderboard vertical.svg US Marine O2 shoulderboard vertical.svg US Marine O1 shoulderboard vertical.svg US Navy OC shoulderboard.svg Various
General Lieutenant General Major General Brigadier General Colonel Lieutenant Colonel Major Captain First Lieutenant Second Lieutenant Midshipman/Officer Candidate


United States United States
(Coast Guard)

(Edit)
No equivalent US CG O10 insignia.svg US CG O9 insignia.svg US CG O8 insignia.svg US CG O7 insignia.svg US CG O6 insignia.svg US CG O5 insignia.svg US CG O4 insignia.svg US CG O3 insignia.svg US CG O2 insignia.svg US CG O1 insignia.svg No equivalent
Admiral Vice Admiral Rear Admiral Rear Admiral (lower half) Captain Commander Lieutenant Commander Lieutenant Lieutenant (junior grade) Ensign
Flag Officers Officers
90px 90px 90px 90px 90px 90px 90px 90px 90px 90px 90px 90px
Ranks in Korean Taejang
대장
Sangjang
상장
Chungjang
중장
Sojang
소장
Taejwa
대좌
Sangjwa
상좌
Chungjwa
중좌
Sojwa
소좌
Taewi
대위
Sangwi
상위
Chungwi
중위
Sowi
소위
Ranks Fleet Admiral Admiral Vice Admiral Rear Admiral Commodore Captain Commander Lieutenant Commander Captain Lieutenant Lieutenant (Senior Grade) Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Ensign

Warrant Officer ranks

Service W-1 W-2 W-3 W-4 W-5
U.S. Army warrant officer 1 rank insignia
U.S. Army chief warrant officer 2 rank insignia
U.S. Army chief warrant officer 3 rank insignia
U.S. Army chief warrant officer 4 rank insignia
U.S. Army chief warrant officer 5 rank insignia
USMC warrant officer 1 rank insignia
USMC chief warrant officer 2 rank insignia
USMC chief warrant officer 3 rank insignia
USMC chief warrant officer 4 rank insignia
USMC chief warrant officer 5 rank insignia
US Navy WO1 insignia.svg
Discontinued
1975
U.S. Navy chief warrant officer 2 rank insignia
U.S. Navy chief warrant officer 3 rank insignia
U.S. Navy chief warrant officer 4 rank insignia
US Navy CW5 insignia.svg
Air Force

(Discontinued)
U.S. Air Force warrant officer 1 rank insignia
U.S. Air Force chief warrant officer 2 rank insignia
U.S. Air Force chief warrant officer 3 rank insignia
U.S. Air Force chief warrant officer 4 rank insignia
U.S. Air Force chief warrant officer 5 rank insignia
US CG WO1 insignia.svg
Discontinued
1975
U.S. Coast Guard chief warrant officer 2 rank Insignia
U.S. Coast Guard chief warrant officer 3 rank insignia
U.S. Coast Guard chief warrant officer 4 rank insignia
Established
1994;
not
implemented
Grade Rank Abbreviation Army Air Force Navy
WO Warrant Officer WO

Enlisted ranks

Both North Korea and South Korea share the same enlisted rank structure among all of their military branches. They also have enlisted ranks called "Corporal" and "Sergeant" in English, but they are not considered non-commissioned officer ranks, though they are treated as one if they hold an NCO position.

All branches of the South Korean armed forces maintain a single Warrant Officer rank known as Junwi. Warrant Officers fall in between non-commissioned and commissioned officers. The rank is denoted by a gold-colored Sowi insignia and, in the case of the South Korean Navy, a single broken sleeve stripe. The North Korean military does not maintain any equivalent Warrant Officer positions.

Enlisted rank insignia differ however: The ROKAF uses a mix of American, British, and French practice while the KPA's insignia follow Soviet practice.

Army ranks

Template:Ranks and Insignia of Non NATO Armies/OR/North KoreaTemplate:Ranks and Insignia of Non NATO Armies/OR/South Korea

Equivalent
NATO Code
OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
United States United States
(Edit)
Army-USA-OR-09a.svg Army-USA-OR-09b.svg Army-USA-OR-09c.svg Army-USA-OR-08a.svg Army-USA-OR-08b.svg Army-USA-OR-07.svg Army-USA-OR-06.svg Army-USA-OR-05.svg Army-USA-OR-04a.svg Army-USA-OR-04b.svg Army-USA-OR-03.svg Army-USA-OR-02.svg No Insignia
Sergeant Major of the Army Command Sergeant Major Sergeant Major First Sergeant Master Sergeant Sergeant First Class Staff Sergeant Sergeant Corporal Specialist Private First Class Private Private

Air force ranks

Template:Ranks and Insignia of Non NATO Air Forces/OR/North KoreaTemplate:Ranks and Insignia of Non NATO Air Forces/OR/South Korea

Equivalent
NATO Code
OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
United States United States
(Edit)
E9d USAF CMSAF.svg E9c USAF CCMS.svg E9a USAF CMSGT.svg E8a USAF SMSGT.svg E7a USAF MSGT.svg E6 USAF TSGT.svg E5 USAF SSGT.svg E4 USAF SAM.svg E3 USAF AM1.svg E2 USAF AM.svg No insignia
Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Command Chief Master Sergeant Chief Master Sergeant Senior Master Sergeant Master Sergeant Technical Sergeant Staff Sergeant Senior Airman Airman First Class Airman Airman Basic

Navy ranks

Template:Ranks and Insignia of Non NATO Navies/OR/North KoreaTemplate:Ranks and Insignia of Non NATO Navies/OR/South Korea

NATO Code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
United States United States
(Edit)
MCPON FMCPO FMCPO E-9 E-8 E-7 E-6 E-5 E-4 E-3 E-2 No Insignia
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Fleet/Force Master Chief Petty Officer Command Master Chief Petty Officer Master Chief Petty Officer Senior Chief Petty Officer Chief Petty Officer Petty Officer First Class Petty Officer Second Class Petty Officer Third Class Seaman Seaman Apprentice Seaman Recruit
United States United States (Marine Corps)
(Edit)
USMC-E9-SGMMC.svg USMC-E9-SGM.svg USMC-E9-MGyS.svg USMC-E8-1SG.svg USMC-E8-MSG.svg USMC-E7.svg USMC-E6.svg USMC-E5.svg USMC-E4.svg USMC-E3.svg USMC-E2.svg No Insignia
Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Sergeant Major Master Gunnery Sergeant First Sergeant Master Sergeant Gunnery Sergeant Staff Sergeant Sergeant Corporal Lance Corporal Private First Class Private
United States United States
(Coast Guard)

(Edit)
MCPOCG MCPOCG CMC MCPO E-8 E-7 E-6 E-5 E-4 E-3 E-2 E-2
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Reserve Command Master Chief Petty Officer Master Chief Petty Officer Senior Chief Petty Officer Chief Petty Officer Petty Officer First Class Petty Officer Second Class Petty Officer Third Class Seaman Seaman Apprentice Seaman Recruit

See also

Notes

  1. Highest possible political-military rank of North Korea and is intended to be an honorific title for the nation’s Great Leaders.
  2. Highest political-military rank reserved only for Supreme Leader of North Korea.

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