Meaning of the KDS Medal

Korea Defense Service Medal Meaning and Data From The Institute of Heraldry (US Army) To Get the Medal, Click Here


A Bronze medal 1 1/4 inches (3.18 cm) in diameter bearing a Korean “circle dragon” within an encircling scroll inscribed “KOREA DEFENSE SERVICE MEDAL” with, in base, two sprigs, laurel to dexter side, bamboo in sinister. On the reverse, is a representation of the land mass of Korea surmounted by two swords points up saltirewise within a circlet garnished of five points.



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 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 form of five-petal symbols common in Korean armory.


The ribbon is 1 3/8 inches wide and consists of the following stripes: 1/4 inch Green 67129; 1/16 inch White 67101; 3/32 inch Green 67129; 1/16 inch Golden Yellow 67104; 3/32 inch Green 67129; center 1/4 inch Ultramarine Blue 67118; 3/32 inch Green 67129; 1/16 inch Golden Yellow 67104; 3/32 inch Green 67129; 1/16 inch White 67101; 1/4 inch Green 67129.


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


See Army Regulation 600-8-22, Military Awards.


The following are authorized components and related items:

a. Medal (regular size): MIL-DTL-3943/311C. NSN 8455-01-512-7138 for set which includes regular size medal and ribbon bar.

b. Medal (miniature size): MIL-DTL-3943/311C. Available commercially.

c. Ribbon: MIL-DTL-11589/585. Available commercially.

d. Lapel Button (ribbon replica): MIL-DTL-11484/299. Available commercially.


Congress ordered the creation of the medal in Section 543 of the 2003 Defense Authorization Act, which President Bush signed into law on 2 December 2002 (Public Law 107-314). The Institute was asked to provide proposed designs which were forwarded to OSD on 21 February 2003. The medal selected on 3 March 2003, was designed by Mr. John Sproston.

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).

Effective 3 February 2004, the Overseas Service Ribbon (OSR) is no longer authorized for overseas tours in the Republic of Korea.

Order of precedence and wear policy for service medals awarded to Army personnel is contained in Army Regulation (AR) 670-1. Policy for awards, approving authority and supply of medals is contained in AR 600-8-22.

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