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North Korea: Border Security Command and Coastal Security Bureau
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > Internal Security > Border Security Command and Coastal Security Bureau


Collectively responsible for restricting unauthorized cross-border (land and sea) entries and exits, in the early 1990s the bureaus responsible for border security and coastal security were transferred from the State Security Department to the Ministry of People’s Armed Forces. Sometime thereafter, the Border Security Bureau was enlarged to corps level and renamed the Border Security Command. Previously headquartered in Chagang Province, the Border Security Command was relocated to P’yŏngyang in 2002.

Deployed along the northern borders with China and Russia, the Border Security Command is organized as four infantry-type units.

The Tenth Border Security Division (which may be a brigade) is based in North P’yŏngan Province. The Thirty-seventh Border Security Brigade is in Chagang Province, the Forty-fourth Border Security Brigade in Yanggang Province, and the Thirty-second Border Security Brigade in North Hamgyŏng Province. These brigades are deployed west to east from the Yellow Sea to the Sea of Japan (or, as Koreans prefer, the West Sea and East Sea, respectively). Responsible for staffing checkpoints, guarding border crossing points, and conducting patrols, these border security units are estimated to have as many as 40,000 assigned personnel. The command also employs an operational-level reserve force that is organized around an enlarged mechanized brigade and tank brigade, which has a combined force structure of about 20,000 personnel.

The Coastal Security Bureau apparently was disaggregated and its coastal security brigades reassigned to various infantry corps. Collectively, the coastal security forces are equipped with about 150 patrol craft and organized into six coastal border brigades, which are deployed with three brigades on each coast. Deployed on the west coast from north to south are the Eleventh Coastal Security Brigade (North P’yŏngan Province), the Thirteenth Coastal Security Brigade (South P’yŏngan Province), and the Fifteenth Coastal Security Brigade (South Hwanghae Province). On the east coast from south to north are the Twenty-second Coastal Security Brigade (Kangwŏn Province), Seventeenth Coastal Security Brigade (South Hamgyŏng Province), and Nineteenth Coastal Security Brigade (North Hamgyŏng Province). The Coastal Security Bureau is responsible for patrolling the coastlines to prevent illegal entries and exits, maintaining harbor and port security, and policing and protecting the nation’s coastal waterways and fishing areas.

Last Updated: June 1993

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for North Korea was first published in 1993. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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