Fact Check: Is North Korea Sending 100K Troops to fight in Eastern Ukraine?

Wes O'Donnell
3 min readAug 15, 2022
North Korean soldiers approach the demilitarized zone in South Korea, Nov. 11, 2012. (DOD photo by D. Myles Cullen/Released) Public Domain

In case you missed it, the internet was abuzz late last week with numerous media outlets reporting that Kim Jong Un offered to send 100,000 North Korean soldiers to fight against Ukrainians on behalf of Russia.

North Korea is one of Russia’s last remaining allies, so it’s at least plausible that Kim Jong Un might want to help his BFF, shirtless equine aficionado, Vladimir Putin.

But how true is it?

The claim started when Russian state TV pundit, Igor Korotchenko, said how great it would be for “North Korean volunteers to deploy to Eastern Europe and help rebuild the destroyed portions of Ukraine” after Russia’s inevitable victory:

But Korotchenko makes no mention of the 100,000 troops figure.

The first mention of 100K soldiers comes from the Russian News Agency REGNUM, which EU members have accused of “aggressive and biased propagandist narratives against Ukraine, and to promote a positive attitude to the annexation of Crimea and the actions of separatists in Donbas.”

The article says:

“North Korea signaled via the diplomatic channels its willingness to support the defense of the Luhansk (LPR) and Donetsk (DPR) republics, including readiness to send up to 100,000 of its soldiers to the Donbas.”

After that, all bets were off.

The media went into a feeding frenzy at this latest development. Even the NY Post spread the news:

Russian state TV: North Korea offering Kremlin 100,000 ‘volunteers’

The problem is that these claims are unverified — the articles frequently cite “diplomatic cables” between Moscow and Pyongyang as proof.

As one of Russia’s only allies, North Korea has indeed voiced support for its actions in Ukraine, and was one of the two nations, along with Syria, to recognize the sovereignty of the DPR and LPR.

Wes O'Donnell

Army & Air Force Veteran | Global Security Wonk for War is Boring, GEN, OneZero, Soldier of Fortune | Law Student | TEDx Speaker | Founder of Warrior Lodge