Do you dream of becoming an officer in the Republic of Korea Army and serving your country with honor and pride? If so, you might want to consider applying to the Korea Military Academy (KMA), the premier institution for the education and training of officer cadets for the Korean army. The KMA is not only a place to learn military skills and knowledge, but also a place to develop your character, leadership, and vision.
The KMA has a long and proud history of producing some of the most distinguished and respected leaders in the nation, both in the military and civilian sectors. In this article, we will give you an overview of the Korean Military Academy, its history, admission process, tuition fees, rankings, academic programs, campus life, athletics, notable alumni, and frequently asked questions. We hope this article will help you decide if the KMA is the right choice for you.
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History of The Korea Military Academy
The Korea Military Academy was founded on May 1, 1946, as the South Joseon Defense Academy by the National Defense Command, the predecessor of the Ministry of National Defense of the Republic of Korea, under the authority of the then-U.S. military administration in South Korea. The academy was established to fill the void of indigenous security force after the end of the Pacific War and the subsequent disbandment of the Imperial Japanese Army, which had been occupying Korea since 1910.
The academy took over 60 cadets from the Military Language School, which had been opened in Seoul on December 5, 1945, to train military interpreters and commissioned officers with unified, predominantly American military doctrine. The academy also recruited 28 new officer candidates from line units. May 1 has been recognized as the official foundation day of the Korea Military Academy ever since.
Following the establishment of the South Korean government on August 15, 1948, the National Defense Force was renamed to the Republic of Korea Army, and so was the South Joseon Defense Academy to the Korea Military Academy accordingly. The academy faced a major challenge during the Korean War, when it had to relocate several times and accelerate the graduation of its cadets to meet the urgent demand for officers in the battlefield. Despite the difficulties, the academy continued to produce competent and courageous officers who fought valiantly for the defense of the nation.
After the war, the academy gradually expanded and improved its facilities, curriculum, and faculty, and established itself as the cradle of leaders for the Korean army and society. The academy also developed close ties with other military academies around the world, such as the United States Military Academy at West Point, the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, and the National Defense Academy of Japan. The academy also participated in various international competitions and events, such as the Sandhurst Competition, the Military World Games, and the International Cadet Week.
Today, the KMA is located in Nowon-gu, a northeast district of Seoul, and has a nickname of Hwarangdae, which means “the academy of flower knights” in Korean, as a reference to the Hwarang, an elite organization of youth leaders which existed in Korean history. The academy has a motto of “Wisdom, Integrity, and Courage” (지, 인, 용), which reflects its core values and vision. The academy aims to cultivate officer cadets who have professional knowledge, ethical character, and leadership skills, and who can contribute to the security and prosperity of the nation and the world.
Admission Into The Korea Military Academy
The admission to the KMA is highly competitive and selective, as only about 4% of the applicants are accepted each year. The admission process consists of several stages, including a written exam, a physical fitness test, a medical checkup, an interview, and a background investigation. The applicants must also meet certain eligibility criteria, such as being a male citizen of the Republic of Korea, having a high school diploma or equivalent, being unmarried and childless, having no criminal record, and having a good moral character.
One of the most distinctive and challenging requirements for admission to the Korea Military Academy is the nomination system. The applicants must obtain a nomination from one of the following sources: the President of the Republic of Korea, the Minister of National Defense, the Chief of Staff of the Army, the Superintendent of the KMA, or one of the commanders of the army corps or commands. Each nominator has a limited number of nominations to give, and the applicants must compete with each other to earn them. The nomination system is designed to ensure that the KMA recruits the best and the brightest candidates who have the potential and the passion to become leaders of the army.
To apply for the KMA, the applicants must follow these steps:
- Register online at the KMA website (www.kma.ac.kr) during the designated period, usually in September or October of each year.
- Take the written exam, which consists of multiple-choice questions on Korean language, English language, mathematics, and general knowledge. The exam is administered by the KMA at various locations across the country, usually in November of each year.
- Submit the required documents, such as high school transcripts, certificates of awards or honors, letters of recommendation, and personal essays, to the KMA by mail or in person, usually in December of each year.
- Take the physical fitness test, which consists of push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, and a 3-kilometer run. The test is administered by the KMA at its campus, usually in January of each year.
- Take the medical checkup, which consists of a comprehensive physical examination, blood tests, urine tests, chest X-rays, electrocardiograms, and psychological tests. The checkup is conducted by the KMA at its campus, usually in January of each year.
- Take the interview, which consists of a panel of three or four KMA faculty members or officers who ask questions on the applicants’ motivation, personality, leadership, and general knowledge. The interview is conducted by the KMA at its campus, usually in February of each year.
- Undergo the background investigation, which consists of verifying the applicants’ identity, family, education, criminal record, and other relevant information. The investigation is conducted by the KMA and the Military Manpower Administration, usually in February or March of each year.
- Wait for the final admission decision, which is announced by the KMA on its website, usually in March of each year.
The applicants who are admitted to the KMA must report to the KMA campus in early April of each year for the entrance ceremony and the start of the four-year program.
The KMA is a public institution funded by the government, and therefore, it does not charge any tuition fees to its cadets. The cadets also receive free room and board, uniforms, books, and equipment from the KMA. The cadets also receive a monthly stipend of about 300,000 won (about 260 US dollars) to cover their personal expenses. The cadets are expected to pay for their own travel expenses, medical expenses not covered by the national health insurance, and other miscellaneous expenses.
The KMA is widely regarded as one of the best and most prestigious military academies in the world. The KMA has been ranked among the top 10 military academies in the world by various sources, such as the Military Education and Training Network, the Military Times, and the Global Firepower. The KMA has also been ranked among the top 100 universities in Asia by various sources, such as the QS World University Rankings, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and the Academic Ranking of World Universities. The KMA has also been ranked among the top 10 universities in Korea by various sources, such as the JoongAng Ilbo University Rankings, the Chosun Ilbo University Rankings, and the Korea Economic Daily University Rankings.
Academic Programs Offered at The Korean Military Academy
The KMA offers a four-year bachelor’s degree program in military science, which is accredited by the Ministry of Education and the Korean Council for University Education. The program consists of three components: general education, major education, and military education. The general education component covers subjects such as Korean language, English language, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, history, philosophy, ethics, psychology, sociology, economics, law, and political science. The major education component covers subjects such as military strategy, tactics, operations, logistics, intelligence, leadership, management, communication, and engineering. The military education component covers subjects such as drill, physical training, weapons, tactics, survival, first aid, and field training.
The KMA also offers a master’s degree program and a doctoral degree program in military science, which are accredited by the Ministry of Education and the Korean Council for University Education. The programs are open to KMA graduates and other qualified candidates who have a bachelor’s degree or higher in military science or related fields. The programs consist of coursework, research, and dissertation. The programs aim to produce scholars and experts who can contribute to the advancement of military science and the security of the nation and the world.
The KMA campus is located in Nowon-gu, a northeast district of Seoul, and covers an area of about 1.3 million square meters. The campus has various facilities, such as academic buildings, dormitories, dining halls, libraries, auditoriums, gymnasiums, stadiums, swimming pools, golf courses, tennis courts, shooting ranges, obstacle courses, and parade grounds. The campus also has various monuments, such as statues, plaques, and memorials, that commemorate the history and achievements of the KMA and its graduates.
The KMA cadets live in dormitories, which are divided into four companies, each consisting of about 300 cadets. The cadets are assigned to a company based on their year of admission, and they remain in the same company throughout their four-year program. The cadets share a room with one or two roommates, and they are responsible for keeping their room and belongings clean and orderly. The cadets also have a company commander, a platoon leader, and a squad leader, who are senior cadets appointed by the KMA faculty and staff to supervise and mentor the junior cadets.
The KMA cadets follow a strict and rigorous daily routine, which starts at 6:00 a.m. and ends at 10:00 p.m. The cadets have to attend morning roll call, flag raising ceremony, breakfast, classes, lunch, physical training, military training, dinner, self-study, evening roll call, and lights out. The cadets also have to participate in various drills, inspections, parades, and ceremonies throughout the year. The cadets have to wear uniforms at all times, except when they are sleeping or taking a shower. The cadets also have to follow the KMA rules and regulations, such as saluting, addressing, and obeying their superiors, and respecting their peers and subordinates.
The KMA cadets also have opportunities to enjoy some leisure and recreational activities, such as reading, watching TV, playing games, listening to music, and surfing the internet, during their free time, which is usually on weekends or holidays. The cadets can also join various clubs and societies, such as academic, cultural, artistic, athletic, religious, and service clubs, to pursue their interests and hobbies, and to interact with other cadets and people outside the KMA. The cadets can also apply for leave or pass, which allows them to visit their families or friends, or to travel to other places, for a limited period of time, usually during summer or winter vacations.
The KMA cadets also have opportunities to enhance their learning and experience, such as taking online courses, attending seminars and workshops, visiting military and civilian facilities, participating in exchange programs and internships, and volunteering for social and community service. The KMA also invites various guest speakers, such as military and civilian leaders, experts, and celebrities, to give lectures and presentations to the cadets on various topics and issues. The KMA also organizes various events and festivals, such as cultural festivals, sports festivals, concerts, and performances, to celebrate and showcase the diversity and talent of the KMA community.
The KMA cadets are required to participate in physical training and military training, which aim to improve their physical fitness, health, and combat readiness. The physical training includes aerobic exercises, such as running, swimming, and cycling, and anaerobic exercises, such as weightlifting, calisthenics, and martial arts. The military training includes basic and advanced skills, such as shooting, marching, rappelling, orienteering, and survival. The cadets are evaluated and graded on their physical and military performance regularly, and they have to meet certain standards and criteria to pass and graduate.
The KMA cadets are also encouraged to participate in sports and athletics, which aim to develop their teamwork, sportsmanship, and competitiveness. The KMA offers various sports and athletic programs, such as soccer, basketball, baseball, volleyball, tennis, golf, rugby, hockey, fencing, archery, taekwondo, judo, boxing, wrestling, and gymnastics.
The cadets can join the KMA varsity teams, which compete with other military and civilian teams at the national and international levels, or the KMA intramural teams, which compete with other KMA teams within the campus. The KMA also hosts and participates in various sports and athletic events and competitions, such as the Army Cadet Sports Festival, the Military Academy Sports Festival, the Military World Games, and the Sandhurst Competition.
Notable Alumni of The Korean Military Academy
The KMA has produced over 20,000 graduates since its inception, and many of them have gone on to become prominent and influential leaders in the military and civilian sectors. Some of the notable alumni of the KMA include:
- Park Chung-hee, the 3rd President of the Republic of Korea, who led the nation’s rapid economic and social development from 1961 to 1979.
- Chun Doo-hwan, the 5th President of the Republic of Korea, who ruled the nation from 1980 to 1988, after leading a military coup in 1979.
- Roh Tae-woo, the 6th President of the Republic of Korea, who succeeded Chun Doo-hwan in 1988, and initiated the democratization and reconciliation of the nation.
- Lee Sang-hoon, the 37th Chief of Staff of the Army, who commanded the army from 2013 to 2015, and played a key role in the defense and modernization of the army.
- Kim Yong-woo, the 39th Chief of Staff of the Army, who commanded the army from 2017 to 2019, and led the army’s response to the North Korean nuclear and missile threats.
- Kim Joon-rak, the 40th Chief of Staff of the Army, who is the current commander of the army since 2019, and oversees the army’s transformation and innovation.
- Kim Tae-young, the 41st Minister of National Defense, who served as the defense minister from 2009 to 2010, and managed the defense and security affairs of the nation.
- Kim Kwan-jin, the 43rd Minister of National Defense, who served as the defense minister from 2010 to 2014, and strengthened the alliance and deterrence of the nation.
- Han Min-koo, the 44th Minister of National Defense, who served as the defense minister from 2014 to 2017, and enhanced the readiness and capability of the nation.
- Song Young-moo, the 45th Minister of National Defense, who served as the defense minister from 2017 to 2018, and supported the peace and dialogue process of the nation.
- Jeong Kyeong-doo, the 46th Minister of National Defense, who served as the defense minister from 2018 to 2020, and advanced the defense reform and cooperation of the nation.
- Suh Wook, the 47th Minister of National Defense, who is the current defense minister since 2020, and leads the defense and security policy of the nation.
- Park Seung-joon, the 1st President of the Korea Aerospace University, who served as the president of the university from 1992 to 1996, and established the university as a leading institution for aerospace education and research.
- Lee Jong-wook, the 6th Director-General of the World Health Organization, who served as the director-general of the organization from 2003 to 2006, and spearheaded the global efforts to combat infectious diseases and improve public health.
- Ban Ki-moon, the 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations, who served as the secretary-general of the organization from 2007 to 2016, and championed the causes of peace, development, human rights, and climate change.
- Lee Myung-bak, the 10th Mayor of Seoul, who served as the mayor of the city from 2002 to 2006, and implemented various urban development and environmental projects, such as the restoration of the Cheonggyecheon stream.
- Lee Nak-yon, the 41st Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea, who served as the prime minister of the nation from 2017 to 2020, and handled the domestic and foreign affairs of the nation.
- Kim Boo-kyum, the 42nd Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea, who is the current prime minister of the nation since 2021, and oversees the administration and governance of the nation.
The KMA is a prestigious and respected military academy that offers a unique and challenging opportunity for young men who aspire to become officers in the Republic of Korea Army. The KMA provides a comprehensive and rigorous education and training program that prepares the cadets for their future roles and responsibilities as leaders of the army and society. The KMA also fosters a strong sense of camaraderie, loyalty, and honor among the cadets and graduates, who share a common bond and identity as Hwarangdae. The KMA is not for everyone, but for those who have the passion and the potential, it is a rewarding and fulfilling experience that will shape their lives and careers.