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REPUBLIC OF KOREA, Landmine Monitor Report 2001
Table of Contents
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Key developments since May 2000: In September 2000, South Korea began a transport linkage project across the DMZ that will require clearing thousands of landmines, but the project has been suspended. South Korea states it cleared 1,100 antipersonnel mines below the DMZ and 4,800 antipersonnel mines in the rear areas in 2000. There were six civilian and thirteen military mine casualties reported in 2000. South Korea produced about 7,000 KM18A1 Claymore mines in 2000. South Korea ratified CCW Amended Protocol II on 9 May 2001.

Mine Ban Policy

The Republic of Korea (ROK) has not acceded to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. South Korea abstained on the November 2000 vote on the UN General Assembly resolution supporting the Mine Ban Treaty, as it had in previous years. South Korea did not participate as an official observer at the Second Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty in Geneva in September 2000, though a few South Korean diplomats attended the opening ceremony. ROK has regularly attended the meetings of the Mine Ban Treaty Standing Committees, including in December 2000 and May 2001.

A South Korean representative attending the Second Conference of States Parties to Amended Protocol II of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) in December 2000, stated: “We earnestly hope that further improvement in the political and security situation on the Korean Peninsula would enable us to take a more forward-looking stance on the APL issues.”[1] Asked if South Korea would join the Mine Ban Treaty if North Korea agreed to do so, the ROK replied, "We will consider this issue positively."[2]

South Korea deposited its instrument of ratification of the CCW Amended Protocol II on 9 May 2001.[3] South Korea submitted one reservation and a number of declarations with its ratification document, but notably did not exercise the optional nine-year deferral period for key obligations. The reservation stated that the ROK “reserves the right to use a small number of mines prohibited under this Protocol exclusively for training and testing purposes.” The National Assembly approved the related implementation bill for Amended Protocol II on 26 April 2001.


South Korea has apparently produced three types of antipersonnel landmines, two which are similar to the US M18A1 Claymore mine and one similar to the US M16A2 bounding mine. The Korean designations for the Claymore-type directional fragmentation mines are KM18A1 and K440. They are usually used in a command-detonated mode, but can also be used with tripwires.[4] According to the ROK government, about 7,000 KM18A1 Claymore mines were produced in 2000 by the Korea Explosives Company, Ltd.[5] South Korea has also apparently produced the M16A2, a bounding fragmentation mine, in the past.[6] However, a South Korean official has said that no antipersonnel mines have been produced since 1997 (presumably except for the Claymore types).[7]


In 1996, the government extended a one-year moratorium on the export of antipersonnel mines for an indefinite period.[8] In 2001 South Korea decided to abandon possible sales of K440 Claymore-type mines to New Zealand, Malaysia, and Singapore, because of a dispute with the US as to whether the K440 mine is a copy of the M18A1 (and if so, the sale would require written consent of the US State Department and be subject to payment of an eight percent royalty).[9]

Earlier ROK mine imports from the US are detailed in previous Landmine Monitor reports.


The South Korean government now confirms that its antipersonnel landmine stockpile is “about twice as many as those that are buried.”[10] Since the government has estimated the number of buried mines at one million,[11] this would mean that South Korea holds some two million antipersonnel mines in its stockpile.

The ROK states that it has already made its old (non-self-destructing) mines detectable, as required under the CCW Amended Protocol II.[12] This job entailed attaching a washer to the bottom of M-14 mines.[13] In addition, South Korea holds a number of self-destructing landmines, including US ADAM artillery-delivered mines[14] and, according to one source, some US GEMMS mines.[15]

Furthermore, the United States is apparently stockpiling in South Korea some 40,000 air-delivered Gator mines, 10,000 Volcano mines, and some infantry-delivered Modular Pack Mine System (MOPMS) mines. The US has made it known that it is maintaining approximately 1.2 million M14 and M16 non-self-destructing antipersonnel mines, to be used in any future resumption of war in Korea,[16] but it is unclear if the non-self-destructing mines are stockpiled in Korea or elsewhere.

Use and Landmine Problem

During the Korean War, between 1952 and 1953, the US Army and the ROK Army heavily mined the area along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to maintain the battle line. Since the ceasefire in July 1953, both armies have planted additional mines in the DMZ and within the Civilian Control Zone (CCZ), which is immediately below the DMZ.[17] Nearly all the antipersonnel mines planted in these areas are US M16 bounding fragmentation mines or US M14 plastic blast mines.[18]

The 155-mile Demilitarized Zone may be one of the most heavily mined areas in the world. South Korean soldiers have been injured while patrolling inside or along the DMZ area. Another dangerous area is the Civilian Control Zone which was established in 1954 to bar any entry of civilians in the immediate area below the DMZ. Although this area is better mapped with warning signs, there are still unidentified minefields. Since 1959, the military has allowed some civilians to enter certain areas in the CCZ to farm the land and establish new villages. There are now 213 villages in the CCZ. Civilians living in the CCZ, as well as soldiers training in the area, have become landmine victims.[19]

There is growing concern is South Korea about the danger of landmines in the so-called “rear areas.” Both South Korea and the United States have used antipersonnel mines extensively in the rear areas (south of the DMZ and CCZ) to protect military installations. The Ministry of National Defense disclosed that from 1970 to 1988, it planted antipersonnel mines at 39 sites below the Han River where important military facilities are located.[20] A senior ROK military official has told Landmine Monitor that there are 30 minefields in the rear area; he also noted that some are around former US Army bases and the Korean Army only recently received maps and other documents about numbers and locations of the mines.[21]

In a joint initiative, the Korea Campaign to Ban Landmines and Japan Campaign to Ban Landmines in 2001 have surveyed 36 districts and identified 41 minefields. Fifteen of those minefields were deployed around former US Army bases.[22]

As noted in Landmine Monitor Report 2000, South Koreans have experienced problems in recent years due to flooding or landslides from heavy rains that wash landmines out of minefields or storage sites into areas frequented by civilians.[23]

Landmine problems also arise when the ROK and US military relocate their military bases without completely removing protective antipersonnel mines. For instance, the US military reportedly left behind some 20,000 antipersonnel landmines at a missile base at Joong-Ri San (mountain), in Pusan, and some 1,700 antipersonnel mines at a missile base in Hadong County, South Kyongsang Province.

The total number of mines planted in South Korea, including the DMZ, Civilian Control Zone, and rear areas is estimated to be more than one million, including 68,000 in the rear areas.[24]

New facts regarding the manner and methods by which the United States plans to use antipersonnel mines in the event of a conflict on the Korean Peninsula have emerged because of research and interviews conducted by Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF).[25] The US has acknowledged retaining more than 1 million non-self-destructing antipersonnel mines for use in a future Korean conflict. It was revealed in briefings provided to VVAF by officers of US Forces Korea, upon threat of attack, the United States plans to transfer approximately 500,000 US stockpiled non-self-destructing antipersonnel mines to South Korea forces. South Korean forces would use the mines to create a set of barriers and obstacles to help slow a North Korean invasion. The remainder of the US stockpile is for use by US forces arriving to reinforce and counterattack, days, if not weeks after the invasion. VVAF also notes that US military officers stated that self-destruct mines and mixed systems are of limited value in Korea because of the mountainous and wooded terrain.

A 19 May 2001 letter to President Bush from six retired US generals and two admirals said, “Several of us are former commanders of elements of I-Corps (USA/ROK group), and believe that APM [antipersonnel mines] are not in any way critical or decisive in maintaining the peninsula’s security.... It is our understanding that the standing response plan to a North Korean attack does not call for these weapons to be used to counter an initial attack.”[26]

Mine Clearance, Mine Awareness, Mine Action Funding

According to the Ministry of National Defense, between April 1999 and June 2000, the Korean Army cleared about 6,200 antipersonnel landmines, prioritizing areas susceptible to flooding, areas where military bases have been moved, and urban access areas.[27]

In February 2001, the ROK government told Landmine Monitor that since the June 2000 summit meeting, it had cleared about 1,100 mines in “front areas” and about 4,800 mines in “rear areas.”[28] The 1,100 front area landmines were apparently destroyed between September 2000 and November 2000, from areas below the DMZ, consisting of M14 and M16 antipersonnel mines as well as M7A2 and M15 antitank mines.[29] The press reported the rear area clearance included work on seven sites and completion at six sites, including Ka-chang (Taegu), Mt. Ho-myong (Uijongbu), Mt. Woo-myun (Seoul), and Kwang-ju (Kyonggi Province).[30]

On 13 February 2001, the Joint Chiefs of Staff announced that the Korean Army plans to clear all the mines in the rear area by 2006. A press account said the ROK military plans to remove some 10,000 antipersonnel mines from five sites south of the Han River in 2001, including some 1,700 antipersonnel mines from the former US Nike missile site at Mt. Kumho, in South Kyongsang Province.[31] The deputy director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Landmine Monitor in April 2001 that the Korean Army expects to clear five or six minefields in 2001, including Mt. Keuma and Mt. Joori.[32]

Following the agreement reached with North Korea in July 2000, on 18 September 2000 the South Korean government launched an inter-Korean transport linkage project that will re-connect a railroad from Munsan to Jangdan at the military demarcation line (MDL) and build a new four-lane highway from Tongil village to the MDL. The South Korean military accepted the task of clearing mines in the path of the transport project with a goal of completing the clearance by spring of 2001. Some 3,000 soldiers and 110,000 civilians were expected to work on the project, starting from the Munsan area.[33] South Korean military leaders estimated the number of landmines in this area of 560,000 square meters at 3,000-10,000.

The actual mine clearance and construction work inside the DMZ was planned to commence in March 2001, after signing an agreement with North Korea on joint regulations to govern the conduct of troops working in the DMZ.[34] However, North Korea has delayed signature of the agreement, apparently in reaction to South Korea’s 2001 Defense White Paper. The agreement was still not signed as of July 2001.

In January 2001 the Sengdo Construction Co., which specializes in demolition, set up Specialist Demining Engineering (SDE), the first private demining company in South Korea. SDE has signed a technical assistance agreement with the UK’s Specialist Gurkha Services.[35]

In February 2001, the Korean Campaign to Ban Landmines began an initiative to survey the rear areas. The aim is to identify the minefields and to investigate civilian mine victims in the areas. It is carrying out the project in cooperation with the Japanese Campaign to Ban Landmines, which is contributing financial and technical support.[36] The KCBL plans to conduct the survey in three stages until November 2001. During the first stage, the survey team will visit the 21 locations where mines are thought to be planted in the rear areas. The second stage will focus on former US Air Force bases where many antipersonnel landmines are presumed to have been laid. The third stage will target the so-called Civilian Control Zone.

In 2000, the ROK government contributed $300,000 to the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Clearance and $30,000 to the Slovenia International Trust Fund.[37]

Landmine Casualties

According to the Ministry of National Defense, 155 people have died of mine accidents since 1990, including 75 civilians.[38] The number of injured victims is likely to be much higher than the number of deaths. The Ministry of National Defense reported that in 2000 one soldier died and 12 were injured in landmine incidents in the DMZ area and Korean Army bases.[39] In 2000, there were six civilian casualties in Korea, including two children; none of the accidents occurred in acknowledged minefields.[40]

In mid-May 2001, while conducting a patrol along the DMZ, a US Army soldier received injuries to his right foot after stepping on an M14 antipersonnel mine.[41]

Recognizing the shortage of reliable data, the Korean Campaign to Ban Landmines estimates that, dating back to the end of the war, there have been more than 1,000 civilian mine victims, and 2,000-3,000 military mine victims in South Korea.[42]

Survivor Assistance

The government states that it pays compensation to the civilian victims of landmines through the State Compensation Act. The civilian victim must first file a claim with the District Compensation Board, located near the accident site, under the jurisdiction of the National Defense Ministry. If the claim is denied, the victim may appeal to the Special Compensation Board of the National Defense Ministry or bring a civil action in court. The National Medical Insurance System covers the medical bills. The Veterans Hospital provides medical services to soldiers wounded while on duty. Depending upon the degree of their injury, the government provides various preferential treatments for wounded soldiers such as tax cuts, employment advantages for their children, and assistance in home purchases. [43]

The KCBL claims that the national compensation law has several limitations, such as a three-year statute of limitation, a low ceiling on the maximum amount of compensation, and burden of proof on claimants, which discourage mine victims’ legitimate requests. Mine victims have to sue the government for compensation for a long period as the Defense Minister generally refuses to admit any responsibility. The KCBL provides legal assistance to mine victims.

Some civic groups are providing direct assistance to landmine victims. The Church Women United of Korea gave 100,000 won ($90) per month to nineteen victims from April to October 2000. The KCBL has a project to supply US$100 per month for 10 months to 22 victims.

In a letter sent to the US Ambassador to Korea, dated 5 September 2000, the KCBL urged the United States to take measures to provide appropriate compensation to Korean mine victims who have been injured within the areas under the past or current control of the US military.

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[1] Statement of Minister Yun Byung-Se, head of the ROK delegation to the Second Annual Conference of the States Parties to the Amended Protocol II of the CCW, Geneva, 11 December 2000.
[2] Response of the ROK Mission to the United Nations in New York to Landmine Monitor Questionnaire, 21 March 2000.
[3] Leading up to the formal deposit, the Ministry of National Defense had submitted ratification documents on 24 July 2000; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs recommended ratification to the National Assembly on 28 September 2000; and the National Assembly ratified Amended Protocol II on 8 December 2000. Telephone interview with Mr. Lee Kie-cheon, Counselor of the ROK Mission to the UN, 1 February 2001.
[4] See, Jane’s Mines & Mine Clearance 1999-2000, and Eddie Banks, Brassey’s Essential Guide to Antipersonnel Landmines (London: Brassey’s, 1997), pp. 200-201.
[5] Response of the ROK Mission to the United Nations in New York to Landmine Monitor Questionnaire, 2 February 2001. This company is also known as Hanwha, the Korean acronym for the English name.
[6] Jane’s Mines & Mine Clearance, 1999-2000, pp. 478-480. Hanwha is listed as the manufacturer.
[7] Telephone interview with Lt Col Il-soo Park, Ministry of National Defense, Seoul, 9 July 2001.
[8] See Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 499.
[9] Jason Sherman, “Comparison May Settle Clash Over Land Mine,” Defense News, 22 January 2001; Jason Sherman, “S. Korean Firm Defuses Land Mine Issue With Pentagon,” Defense News, 4-10 June 2001, p. 13.
[10] Response of ROK Mission, 2 February 2001.
[11] Ibid.
[12] Response of the ROK Mission, 21 March 2000.
[13] Caleb Rossiter, Winning in Korea Without Landmines (Washington, DC: VVAF Monograph Series, 2000), p. 34.
[14] The US sold 31,572 ADAM mines to South Korea from 1886-88.
[15] Caleb Rossiter, Winning in Korea Without Landmines (Washington, DC: VVAF Monograph Series, 2000), p. 36. GEMMS is a mine system with M74 antipersonnel mines and M75 antitank mines that are scattered from trailers using the “flipper” scattering device.
[16] See Landmine Monitor Report 1999, p. 333.
[17] Saegae Ilbo (South Korean daily newspaper), 25 August 2000. This report said mines were laid in 1962, 1967, 1978, and 1988. The Civilian Control Zone is also sometimes called the Military Control Zone.
[18] Caleb Rossiter, Winning in Korea Without Landmines (Washington, DC: VVAF Monograph Series, 2000), p. 34. Other US mines planted in South Korea may include M2, the M3, M16A1, M16A2, and M26 mines. See Jane’s Mines and mine Clearance, p. 653.
[19] Jai-Kook Cho, “Facts Concerning AP Landmine Victims,” on KCBL website at http://landmine.peacenet.or.kr/ (in Korean); Si-Woo Lee, “Facts Concerning AP Landmines Outside of DMZ and the US Lies,” 29 December 2000, on KCBL website.
[20] Hankook Ilbo (South Korean daily newspaper), 15 November 2000.
[21] Interview with Col. Kang-soo Lee, deputy director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Korean Army Headquarters, 19 April 2001.
[22] Information provided by Dr. Jai-kook Cho, KCBL, 11 July 2001. Green Korea United, a South Korean civic organization, has identified twenty-one minefields in the rear areas, including in major cities like Seoul and Pusan, as well as national and provincial parks all over South Korea. The breakdown of the twenty-one sites are as follows: four minefields each in Kyonggi Province and South Kyongsang Province; three minefields in South Chungchong Province; two minefields each in Pusan and South Cholla Province; and one minefield each in Seoul, Taegu, Ulsan, Kangwon Province, North Kyongsang Province and North Cholla province. See www.greenkorea.org
[23] See Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 501.
[24] Response of ROK Mission, 2 February 2001, stated an estimated 1 million in the DMZ and an estimated 68,000 in “other areas.” A 1999 ROK Defense Ministry report cited 1.05 million antipersonnel and antitank mines in the DMZ and CCZ, plus 75,000 antipersonnel mines in rear areas. Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 500.
[25] Briefing provided to Landmine Monitor by Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, “Landmines and the Situation on the Korea Peninsula,” March 2001. This briefing summarized the findings of visits to military officers of U.S. Forces Korea and South Korean government and military officials by Lieutenant General (Retired) Robert Gard and Dr. Edwin Deagle, 11-14 December 2000.
[26] Letter to President George W. Bush, dated 19 May 2001, signed by Rear Adm-ret Eugene Carroll, Lt Gen-ret Henry Emerson, Lt Gen-ret James Hollingsworth, Lt Gen-ret Harold Moore, Lt Gen-ret Dave Palmer, Vice Adm-ret Jack Shanahan, Lt Gen-ret DeWitt Smith, Lt Gen-ret Walter Ulmer.
[27] Response of Ministry of National Defense to Lawmaker Hyung-ho Kim in a session of the National Defense Committee, 10 October 2000.
[28] Response of ROK Mission, 2 February 2001.
[29] Response of Ministry of National Defense to KCBL’s Questionnaire, 21 November 2000; Christopher Torchia, “Hard Task To Clear S.Korea Mines,” Associated Press (Seoul), 19 October 2000.
[30] Hankook Ilbo, 15 November 2000.
[31] “ROK Army To Clear Anti-Personnel Landmines in Rear Areas in 2001,” The Korea Herald, 22 December 2000. On 27 February 2001, the ROK Army met with NGOs (including KCBL) in Mt. Keumo to discuss mine clearance operations and the Army said it is planning to clear the minefields around army bases.
[32] Interview with Col. Kang-soo Lee, deputy director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Korean Army Headquarters, 19 April 2001.
[33] Hankook Ilbo, 19 September 2000; See also Landmine Monitor Report 2001 on DPRK for further information on inter-Korea transportation linkage project.
[34] “Two Koreas to Start Work on DMZ Rail Link in March,” Reuters, 21 December 2000; “Koreas Reach Agreement on DMZ Joint Regulations,” The Korea Times, 1 February 2001.
[35] “Korean, British firms agree to cooperate on landmine clearance,” Korea Herald, 3 February 2001.
[36] “Korean, Japanese civic groups to draw map of minefields,” The Korea Herald, 8 February 2001.
[37] Response of the ROK Mission to the UN, 2 February 2001.
[38] “Land Mines Kill 155 People in S. Korea Since 1990,” Xinhua News Agency (Seoul), 6 November 2000.
[39] Response of Ministry of National Defense to Lawmaker Hyung-ho Kim, 31 October 2000. Response of the ROK Mission, 2 February 2001.
[40] KCBL, “Diary of Landmine Incidents,” on its website: http://landmine.peacenet.or.kr/.
[41] The Landmine Monitor coordinator, Mary Wareham, interviewed the soldier at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, DC, 6 July 2001.
[42] See Landmine Monitor Report 1999, p. 480.
[43] Response of the ROK Mission, 2 February 2001.