The Korea Defense Service Medal was established by Section 543 of the 2003 National Defense Authorization Act (PL 107-314) signed into law by President George W. Bush on December 2, 2002.
The Korea Defense Service Medal is awarded for qualifying service on or after July 28, 1954.
This medal is awarded to members of the Armed Forces of the United States who have been assigned, attached, or mobilized to units operating in the area of eligibility for thirty consecutive or for sixty non-consecutive days, or who meet the following criteria:
The Korean Defense Service Medal is worn after the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and before the Armed Forces Service Medal.
No devices are authorized for this medal: only one award of the KDSM is authorized for any individual.
The Korea Defense Service Medal was designed by John Sproston of the Army's Institute of Heraldry.
DESCRIPTION AND SYMBOLISM
In the center of a bronze disc, a "circle dragon" surrounded by the words KOREA DEFENSE SERVICE MEDAL. At the bottom of the medal, and following its lower contour, are a spray of laurel on the left and a spray of bamboo on the right, joined at the center.
The four-clawed dragon is a traditional symbol of Korea and represents intelligence and strength of purpose. The laurel denotes honorable endeavor and victory, and the bamboo alludes to Asia.
In the center of the medal a representation of the land mass of Korea is surmounted by two swords, points up, saltirewise (crossed). The central theme is surrounded by a circlet with five inward points. The swords signify defense of freedom in Korea and the readiness to engage in combat towards that end. The circlet enclosing the central theme recalls the forms of five-petal symbols common in Korean armory.
The ribbon is a field of dark green bisected in the center by a stripe of dark blue. There are white and gold pinstripes to either side of the dark blue, but separated from it by dark green. The white and gold pinstripes are themselves separated by dark green. The dark green represents the land of Korea; the blue indicates overseas service and commitment to achieving peace. The gold denotes excellence, while the white stands for idealism and integrity.