National Police Agency (South Korea)

The Korean National Police Agency (KNPA), also known as the Korean National Police (KNP), is one of a few police organizations in South Korea and is run under the Ministry of the Interior and Safety.[2] As a national police force it provides all policing services throughout the country.[2] The Korea Forest Service also have their own police organizations, as does the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation to police the railroad system.

Korean National Police Agency
Korean name
Revised RomanizationGyeongchalcheong
Badge of a South Korean police officer
Common nameKorean National Police
Jurisdictional structure
National agencySouth Korea
Operations jurisdictionSouth Korea
General nature
HeadquartersMigeun-dong, Seodaemun, Seoul
Police officers101,108 (2010)[1]
Minister responsible
  • Kim Boo-Kyum, Minister of the Interior and Safety
Agency executive
  • Min Gap-Ryong, Commissioner General
Local police agencys
Official website


The NPA is headquartered in Migeun-dong, Seodaemun, Seoul.[3] The agency is divided into 18 local police agencies, including the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency. Local police agencies are not independent of the national police. There were 106,898 police officers as of 2015.


  • Commissioner General (치안총감, 治安總監): at most one may be appointed at a time.
  • Chief Superintendent General (치안정감, 治安正監): at most five may be appointed at a time.
  • Senior Superintendent General (치안감, 治安監)
  • Superintendent General (경무관, 警務官)
  • Senior Superintendent (총경, 總警)
  • Superintendent (경정, 警正)
  • Senior Inspector (경감, 警監)
  • Inspector (경위, 警衛)
  • Assistant Inspector (경사, 警査)
  • Senior Police Officer (경장, 警長)
  • Police Officer (순경, 巡警)
    • Newly commissioned officers are appointed as Policeman Assistant (순경시보, 巡警試補) for a one-year probationary period. The uniform and insignia of an assistant is identical to those of a Policeman.
  • Auxiliary Policeman (의경, 義警)
    • Sergeant Constable (수경, 首警)
    • Corporal Constable (상경, 上警)
    • Private Constable First Class (일경, 一警)
    • Private Constable (이경, 二警)

Local police agencies

Police AgencyPolice stationsPolice officers
Daejeon72,274 [4]
Chungbuk (North Chungcheong)122,901
Chungnam (South Chungcheong)155,808
Jeonbuk (North Jeolla)154,498
Jeonnam (South Jeolla)217,408
Gyeongbuk (North Gyeongsang)245,765
Gyeongnam (South Gyeongsang)235,589
Jeju2 (Jeju Autonomous Police Agency : 1)1,282

Combat police

The Combat Police division of the National Police Agency is an anti-riot paramilitary unit, of military conscripts. Its members deal with counterintelligence and riot policing. It was established in 1967, during the Third Republic. Each battalion is assigned to a municipal police agency in the country. In their riot gear, they were once identified by their signature metal riot shields which are numbered such as "1001" or "1011", and on their helmets with the NPA emblem. Now the police use modern tactical clear plastic shields and now deploy high-powered water cannons to minimize civilian injuries. Two weeks of training are taken by each draftee.

The Combat Police are deployed at demonstrations and rallies where violent disorder may occur. When such an event becomes violent they rush in and contain the protestors with long batons and often, their metal shields. When blocking the passage of illegal protesters, the Combat Police use the "Passive Formation", where the shields are held up to make a small wall. This is the most frequent formation used. However they are also trained to retaliate, to the frequent attacks by protesters, by angling the shield and pushing, or jabbing the shield at protestors in this formation.

When they are ordered to contain a protest that has become too violent, such as the North Korea-aligned student group Hanchongryun's firebombing tactics, they use the "offensive formation". In this case, the shields are angled sideways, with the officers charging forward to break the riot.

Instances of police brutality have in the past been raised against the South Korean anti-riot units in particular, by the Asian Human Rights Commission, citing police actions of a "brutal and violent manner" that cause deaths among protesters, including Jeon Young-Cheol on November 24, 2005.[6] The South Korean President, Roh Moo Hyun, later apologised for this violence. The police force themselves reported that 117 officers were injured against 70 protesters, after being hit "with shards of broken bottles and flower vases".[7] Injuries to the riot police officers have themselves become reason for protest, with one in every 53 officers being injured in 2005, the number of injuries having raised to 893 from 331 in 2000.

Then, on December 26, 2011, 3,211 riot police were finally evacuated and abolished on September 25, 2013. Relevant tasks, including the suppression of protests by the combat police, were transferred to the Republic of Korea Auxiliary Police.

Special Operations Unit (SOU)

The KNP SOU, formerly known as KNP SWAT before it changed its name, is a specialized unit to perform dangerous operations. The unit's main mission is counter-terrorism, but it also can include serving high-risk arrest warrants, performing hostage rescue and/or armed intervention, and engaging heavily armed criminals.

  • Seoul Police Agency : 4 squadrons
  • Busan Police Agency : 1 squadron
  • Daegu Police Agency : 1 squadron
  • Incheon Police Agency : 1 squadron
  • Chungnam (South Chungcheong) Police Agency : 1 squadron
  • Jeonnam (South Jeolla) Police Agency : 1 squadron
  • Jeju Police Agency : 1 squadron

Coast Guard

Following the Sinking of MV Sewol, then-president Park announced her plan to dissolve the Korea Coast Guard which was later approved by the National Assembly. President Moon Jae-in who took office after Park's impeachment announced his plan to re-organise ministries and government agencies including reviving the Korea Coast Guard as an independent, external agency under Ministry responsible for maritime affairs - which was also approved by the National Assembly.

See also


  1. "National Police Agency". FAS. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  2. Home page. Korean National Police Agency. Retrieved on April 30, 2010. "Korean National Police Agency, Uiju-ro 91(Migeun-dong 209) Seodaemun-gu, Seoul 120-704."
  3. Chung, Woochun; Chang-Hee Kim (July 4, 2007). "Regional Police Agency opens in Daejeon and Gwangju" (in Korean). Munhwa Ilbo. Retrieved 2007-07-19.
  4. Police brutality against protesting farmers must end Asian Human Rights Commission retrieved August 3, 2007
  5. Anti-US protesters clash with South Korean riot police Taipei Times retrieved August 3, 2007

Further reading

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