The area of eligibility encompasses all land area of the Republic of Korea, and the contiguous waters out to 12 nautical miles, and all air spaces above the land and water areas.

     Effective 3 February 2004, the Overseas Service Ribbon (OSR) is no longer authorized for overseas tours in the Republic of Korea. Separate information will be published addressing previous awards of the  OSR for normal overseas tours in the Republic of Korea, and the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (AFEM) for service in the Republic of Korea from 1 October 66 to 30 June 74.

     CRITERIA: Service members must have been assigned, attached, or mobilized to units operating in the area of eligibility for 30 consecutive days or for 60 non-consecutive days or meet the following criteria.

a. Be engaged in combat during an armed engagement, regardless of the time in the area of eligibility.

b. Is wounded or injured in the line of duty and requires medical evacuation from the area of eligibility.

c. While participating as a regularly assigned aircrew member flying sorties into, out of, or within the area of eligibility in direct support of military operations. Each day that one or more sorties are flown in accordance with these criteria shall count as one day toward the 30 or 60-day requirement.

d. Personnel who serve in operations and exercises conducted in the area of eligibility are considered eligible for the award as long as the basic time criteria is met. Due to extensive time period for KDSM eligibility, the nonconsecutive period for eligibility remains cumulative throughout the entire period.

     The KDSM may be awarded posthumously to any soldier who lost his or her life without regard to length of such service. Only one award of the KDSM is authorized for any individual.

     In order of precedence, the KDSM will be worn below the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal (GWOTSM) and  above the Armed Forces Service Medal (AFSM).

     Servicemembers currently on active duty who are eligible for the medal will have their Personnel Qualification Records updated and will be awarded the medal through their command channels. The medals, NSN 8455-01-512-7138, will be available through normal supply channels by May 2004.

     Requests for award of the KDSM to veterans, retirees, or their next of kin will be submitted to the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC), in St. Louis, MO.

     Requests will include documents supporting service in Korea from 28 July 1954 to a date to be determined. NPRC will add the KDSM to the DD Form 214 by issuing a DD Form 215 (Correction to DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty).

     Current members of the Army Reserve and National Guard should contact their current records custodian to have their records updated.

Expect Delays

     Personnel seeking verification of their eligibility from the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) to receive the Korean Defense Service Medal (KDSM) could be in for long delays and possibly disappointment taking into consideration the following:
-       Generally the tour of duty in Korea was for one year and the bulk of the personnel were Army. Considering 40,000 soldiers stationed there each year for 50 years means about 2 million are eligible for this medal. A typical request rate would be between 10 and 30 % of those eligible, so 200,000 to 600,000 requests are projected.
-       Many of these people are no longer serving on active duty so the National Personnel Records Center will be the agency that must verify eligibility for this medal.
-       The implementing instructions do not list specific source documents to verify eligibility thus records must be screened for evidence to meet eligibility requirements. While records may contain assignment orders many of these orders do not specify Korea.  Instead they list something like, APO SF CAL 96012 or FPO 92109.  Both would indicate an assignment in the Pacific area but a list of APO/FPO zip code locations inclusive of which years they applied would be required to establish in country 
assignment.  NPRC doe not have this list.
-       A personnel record does not contain documentation of participation as a regularly assigned air crewmember flying sorties into, out of, within, or over the area of eligibility in support of military operations. Each day that one or more sorties are flown counts as one day toward the 30 or 60-day requirement; so verification of this requirement will be very difficult, if not impossible.
-       NPRC does not have a listing of ships that were within 12 miles of Korea and the dates, so verification for Navy personnel based on the personnel records will be difficult. Generally, the Navy Liaison office in St. Louis will process requests for awards from former U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps., and U.S. Coast Guard personnel. That office may have ship location information.
-       Being on TDY in Korea may not meet the award criteria. TDY does not generally mean assigned, attached, or mobilized to a unit. Even if TDY is accepted as the basis for this award it will be almost impossible to verify from the personnel records because TDY orders are generally not permanent personnel documents.
-       Although verification of assignment may be possible through screening of finance records, these are not available at NPRC.

     In view of the above it is suggested that if the veteran or retiree has any 
supporting documentation of their time in Korea, that it be included with 
the request. Only one or two documents would be sufficient. Submitting more 
is redundant and discouraged. [Source: NPRC E-mail 07 Jun 2004]

     Application and mailing instructions can be viewed and printed here. 

Since March 29, 2004, you are visitor number:
View and print application here.
     The Secretary of Defense approved the implementing instructions for the Korea Defense Service Medal on February 3, 2004.

     The Korea Defense Service Medal (KDSM) is authorized to members of the Armed Forces who have served on active duty in support of the defense of the Republic of Korea from 28 July 1954 to a date to be determined.
Page updated June 15, 2004