Korea Defense Service Medal

Korea Defense Service Medal

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Created in 2002 by order of President George W. Bush.
Service: All Services
Instituted: 2003    Dates 1954 to date TBD
Criteria: Authorized for US military who served in the Republic of Korea to uphold the armistice between South and North Korea. Service in the Korean theater must have been at least thirty consecutive days.
Devices: None

Korea Defense Service Medal – Overview

For the defense of the Republic of Korea. The Korea Defense Service Medal is worn after the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and before the Armed Forces Service Medal.

The Korea Defense Service Medal was provided for in the Fiscal Year 2003 National Defense Authorization Act. The medal is awarded to members of the Armed Forces who served in the Republic of Korea or waters adjacent thereto for a qualifying period of time between July 28, 1954 and a date to be determined.

Korea Defense Service Medal Korea Defense Service Medal

Korea Defense Service Medal

The Korea Defense Service Medal was designed by the Institute of Heraldry. The military medal is a circular bronze disc bearing a Korean circle dragon within an encircling scroll inscribed, “KOREA DEFENSE SERVICE MEDAL” with, in base, two sprigs, laurel to dexter side, bamboo to sinister. Symbolism: The four-clawed dragon is a traditional symbol of Korea and represents intelligence and strength of purpose. The sprig of laurel denotes honorable endeavor and victory, the bamboo refers to the land of Korea. The medal’s reverse displays a representation of the land mass of Korea surmounted by two swords points up saltirewise within a circlet garnished of five points.

Symbolism: The swords placed saltirewise over a map of Korea signify defense of freedom in that country and the readiness to engage in combat to that end. The circlet enclosing the device recalls the forms of five-petal symbols common in Korean armory.

The ribbon is dark green representing the land of Korea, blue indicates overseas service and commitment to achieving peace. Gold denotes excellence, white symbolizes idealism and integrity. Light blue with a thin white stripe in the center and narrow white stripes at the edges.

It is retroactive to the end of the Korean War and is granted to any service performed after July 28, 1954. The National Personnel Records Center is responsible for verifying entitlement of the KDSM to discharged members of the military who served in Korea prior to the creation of the KDSM.

Only one award of the Korea Defense Service Medal is authorized, regardless of the amount of time served in the Korean theater. For service members who were awarded an Overseas Service Ribbon for Korean service, both decorations may be worn simultaneously.

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  1. Josh at 10:53 pm
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    I have a question. My grandpa served in the tail end of the Korean War, with a few months of the fifteen total overseas being after the armistice was signed. He has the Korean Service Medal w/ three bronze campaign stars, UN – Korea, National Defense, and Good Conduct Medal listed on his DD-214. I know he also rates the ROK War Service Medal, and I just learned he rates the Korean Presidential Unit Citation, since that was awarded to every service member. Does he rate the Korean Defense Service Medal?

    MoA: Korean Defense is 1954 to present. It’s more of a modern warfare type medal.

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