North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Pyongyang Defense Command

updated 23 December 2010

The Pyongyang Defense Command [PDC], which is also called the Capital Defense Corps, is  responsible for the security and military defense of Pyongyang and its immediate surroundings.  The PDC is a Korean People’s Army [KPA] corp-level unit with an estimated personnel of 60,000.  The PDC has mobile and tank divisions, a heavy weapons brigade and an artillery brigade.

The PDC’s primary mission is to defend the leadership and the capital from a military coup.  It links directly with the Guard Command.  Together these units are tasked with the protection of key areas and buildings in and around Pyongyang, as well as providing personal security escort service for members of the DPRK leadership.  The PDC also links to the III Army Corps in South Pyongan which is responsible for the security of the area immediately surrounding Pyongyang.

The PDC was organized in 1955.  Its commander is traditionally a specialist in combined arms warfare and has direct ties to Kim Chong-il and his father, Kim Il-song, before him.  The commander of the PDC has historically been one of the only members of the military leadership who was neither demoted nor purged.

The last known head of the Pyongyang Defense Command was VMAR Yi Yong-ho.  Yi vacated the position after he was appointed Chief of the KPA General Staff Department in February 2009.

See also:

Bermudez, Joseph S., Jr.  The Armed Forces of North Korea London: IB Tauris, 2001

Gause, Ken.  North Korean Civil-Military Trends: Military First Politics to a Point (Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute USAWC, 2006)

Oh, Kongdan, Ed., DPRK Policy Elites (Joseph S. Bermudez; Ken Gause; Ralph C. Hassig; Alexandre Y. Mansourov; David J. Smith) Alexandria, VA: IDA,  2004

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