Return to Previous Page Return to U.S. Veteran Medals Home Page
U.S. Army Service, Campaign Medals and Foreign Awards Information
Korea Defense Service Medal



In the center of a bronze disc, a "circle dragon" surrounded by the words
KOREA DEFENSE SERVICE MEDAL. At the bottom of the medal, and following its lower contour, are a spray of laurel on the left and a spray of bamboo on the right, joined at the center.

The four-clawed dragon is a traditional symbol of Korea and represents intelligence and strength of purpose. The laurel denotes honorable endeavor and victory, and the bamboo alludes to Asia.


In the center of the medal a representation of the land mass of Korea is surmounted by two swords, points up, saltirewise (crossed). The central theme is surrounded by a circlet with five inward points. The swords signify defense of freedom in Korea and the readiness to engage in combat towards that end. The circlet enclosing the central theme recalls the forms of five-petal symbols common in Korean armory. A Bronze medal, 1 1/4 inches in diameter with a demi-torch (as on the Statue of Liberty) encircled at the top by the inscription "ARMED FORCES SERVICE MEDAL" on the obverse side. On the reverse side is an eagle (as on the seal of the Department of Defense) between a wreath of laurel in base and the inscription "IN PURSUIT OF DEMOCRACY" at the top. 

Ribbon: The ribbon is a field of dark green bisected in the center by a stripe of dark blue. There are white and gold pinstripes to either side of the dark blue, but separated from it by dark green. The white and gold pinstripes are themselves separated by dark green. The dark green represents the land of Korea; the blue indicates overseas service and commitment to achieving peace. The gold denotes excellence, while the white stands for idealism and integrity.


This medal is awarded to members of the Armed Forces of the United States who have been assigned, attached, or mobilized to units operating in the area of eligibility for thirty consecutive or for sixty non-consecutive days, or who meet the following criteria:

-- Be engaged in combat during an armed engagement, regardless of the time in the area of elibility;

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

-- 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;

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

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


a. The Korea Defense Service Medal was established by Section 543 of the 2003 National Defense Authorization Act (PL 107-314) signed into law by President George W. Bush on December 2, 2002.

b. The Korea Defense Service Medal is awarded for qualifying service on or after July 28, 1954.

c. The Korean Defense Service Medal is worn after the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and before the Armed Forces Service Medal.

d. No devices are authorized for this medal: only one award of the KDSM is authorized for any individual.