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The Korea Defense Service Medal was authorized in 2003 for Armed Forces members who served in the Korean theater for at least 30 consecutive days or 60 non-consecutive days after July 28, 1954. The medal is also awarded for service to include reservists on annual training in Korea. While only one award of the Korea Defense Service Medal is authorized, the question is, do you have the old one or the new one?

Distinctions Between the Two Medals

The Institute of Heraldry changed the specifications for the first  Korea Defense Service Medal. At first glance, you might not notice the change, but the new medals being manufactured have a slightly different look or a bit smaller, and the word “medal” has been removed from the front of the medallion. The original medal is still authorized for wear and may still be issued as long as they are in the supply system. It should undoubtedly be the medal of choice if you want something a bit special.

The current medal is a bronze disc with a Korean circle dragon within a scroll inscribed, “KOREA DEFENSE SERVICE,” with two sprigs of laurel at the base. The four-clawed dragon is a traditional Korean symbol representing intelligence and strength of purpose. The sprig of laurel denotes honorable endeavor and victory; the bamboo refers to the land of Korea. The reverse displays two swords placed over a map of Korea to signify the defense of freedom and the readiness to engage in combat. The enclosing circlet represents the five-petal symbols common in Korean armory. The Korea Defense Service Medal is worn after the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and before the Armed Forces Service Medal. The dark green ribbon represents the land of Korea; blue indicates overseas service and commitment to achieving peace. Gold denotes excellence; white symbolizes idealism and integrity, and light blue with a thin white stripe in the center and narrow white stripes at the edges.

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