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REPUBLIC OF KOREA, Landmine Monitor Report 2002


Key developments since May 2001: In 2001 the ROK cleared about 4,700 landmines from around military bases in the rear area. It also cleared 840 mines and 850,000 square meters of land in the inter-Korean transportation routes south of the DMZ. The ROK ratified CCW Amended Protocol II on 9 May 2001. Landmine Monitor’s Asia-Pacific researchers held their regional meeting in Seoul in October 2001. Information came to light that nearly half of the 1.1 million US “dumb” mines for fighting in Korea are stored in the US, and that the US plans to transfer more than 560,000 mines already stored in South Korea to ROK forces at the outset of conflict.


The Republic of Korea (ROK) has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty. South Korea abstained from voting on the UN General Assembly resolution supporting the Mine Ban Treaty in November 2001, as it had in previous years. South Korea did not participate as an official observer at the Third Meeting of States Parties in Nicaragua in September 2001. However, the ROK has regularly attended the Mine Ban Treaty intersessional Standing Committee meetings, including January and May 2002. It also participated in the regional seminar on landmine stockpile destruction hosted by Malaysia in August 2001.

The ROK ratified Amended Protocol II to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) on 9 May 2001, and it entered into force six months later.[1] A South Korean representative attended the Third Annual Conference of States Parties to Amended Protocol II, as well as the Second CCW Review Conference, in December 2001. The ROK submitted its first annual report as required by Article 13 of Amended Protocol II.

Members of the ICBL from the Asia-Pacific region came together in Seoul from 25-29 October 2001 to discuss their research for Landmine Monitor Report 2002 and their campaigning plans and priorities for 2002. The Korean Campaign to Ban Landmines (KCBL) hosted the meeting, which included a field trip to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) for an ROK military briefing. In the nearby village of Daekwang-ri they met with civilians injured by landmines from the DMZ while farming their rice paddies.[2]

The campaigners also sent an open letter to President Kim Dae-Jung urging his government to join the Mine Ban Treaty as soon as possible. The meeting coincided with a visit by Nobel laureate Jody Williams to Chungbuk National University, south of Seoul. On 30 October 2001, Williams met with the leader of ROK’s majority party (Grand National Party), Chairman Lee Hoi-Chang, who expressed sympathy for the humanitarian work of the campaign, but at the same time, stated that antipersonnel mines in the DMZ served a specific purpose as a deterrent. He indicated that if North Korea acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty, the ROK would also, and expressed interest in interim steps short of joining the ban treaty.[3]


South Korea has produced two “Claymore” type directional fragmentation antipersonnel mines, designated KM18A1 and K440. The Hanwha Corporation has reported the production of a total of 21,016 KM18A1 Claymore mines from 1993-1997.[4] The ROK has acknowledged production of 4,287 KM18A1s in 1998, 1,363 in 1999, and 7,088 in 2000. [5] A Ministry of Defense official told Landmine Monitor that South Korea has not produced any antipersonnel mines, including Claymore mines, after 2000.[6]

A standard reference work on landmines has reported that Hanwha also produces the M16A2, a licensed copy of the US bounding fragmentation mine. It is listed as in production and in use in the Demilitarized Zone.[7] However, according to the Information Desk of Hanwha, a licensed copy of the US M16A2 was developed in 1987, but has not been produced for military use.[8]


In 1997, the government extended a one-year moratorium on the export of antipersonnel mines for an indefinite period.[9] Apparently the moratorium does not include Claymore-type mines, as South Korea in 2001 offered to sell K440 Claymore-type mines to New Zealand, Malaysia, and Singapore.[10]

In the event of a renewed war in Korea, the United States plans to transfer more than 560,000 M14 and M16 non-self-destructing (“dumb”) mines that are stockpiled in South Korea to the ROK Army, for their immediate deployment.[11] Questions have been raised about the applicability of the U.S. global transfer moratorium in place since 1992.


South Korea is believed to possess some two million non-self-destructing antipersonnel mines in its stockpile. The estimate is based on the South Korean government statement that its antipersonnel landmine stockpile is “about twice as many as those that are buried;” the government has said the number of buried mines is around one million. (See below). In addition, South Korea holds an unknown number of self-destructing landmines, including US ADAM artillery-delivered mines[12] and, according to one source, some US GEMMS mines.[13]

South Korea reported that by July 1999 it completed the modification of all low metal content M14 mines in its stockpiles, by attaching 8 grams of iron.[14] This modification, to make the mines more easily detected, is required by Amended Protocol II. An official of the Ministry of National Defense indicated that a total of 960,000 M14 mines were modified.[15]

The US has long made it known that it is stockpiling more than one million M14 and M16 non-self-destructing antipersonnel mines, to be used in any future resumption of war in Korea.[16] However, surprising information has recently come to light that nearly half of those mines are not in South Korea, but stored in the continental United States.

According to information provided to Human Rights Watch by the US Army, as of August 2001, the US has 1,138,600 non-self-destructing mines for use in Korea. A total of 510,600 mines (45) are stored in the continental United States, and would likely take weeks or months to get to Korea. Another 564,300 mines (50) are stored in the ROK, as “war reserves,” and would be handed over to the ROK Army at the outset of conflict. The remaining 63,700 mines (five percent) are also stored in the ROK, for use by US forces.[17]

In addition to the non-self-destructing mines, the US also stockpiles remotely-delivered self-destructing antipersonnel mines in South Korea.


During the Korean War, the US Army and the ROK Army heavily mined the area along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Additional landmines were planted in the 1960s, 1978, and 1988 in the DMZ and within the Civilian Control Zone (CCZ), which is a restricted area of three-to-twelve miles immediately below the southern boundary of the DMZ.[18]

The Demilitarized Zone and the adjacent CCZ are among the most heavily mined areas in the world. The ROK Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade recently estimated the number of emplaced mines at 1,150,000.[19] The US State Department in November 2001 estimated 1,125,000.[20] The South Korean military has used a figure of about 1.2 million.[21] The Ministry of National Defense stated that 1,368 million square meters are mined in the DMZ and CCZ.[22]

The Ministry of National Defense has also reported the deployment of 49,149 landmines in 39 minefields located at 32 anti-aircraft sites and six US Army bases in the so-called “rear areas.” Seven of the 39 minefields have been cleared.[23] However, there is a growing concern about the danger of landmines because of a public disclosure that more than 1,000 landmines have been lost since 1998, after being washed out from the minefields or military bases due to heavy rains.[24]

In a joint initiative, two South Korean civic organizations surveyed minefields in 36 areas in South Korea and identified 13 as “highly dangerous areas exposed to possible landmine explosion.” These are mostly located on mountains or in villages near military bases. [25]


In April 2002, the ROK told Landmine Monitor that “about 4,700 M14 AP mines” were removed from military sites in rear areas in 2001.[26] Previously, in December 2001, the ROK stated it had “cleared 4,532 landmines from the periphery of military camps and bases of the rear area in 2001. These landmines were buried to protect military camps and bases from a surprise attack by special forces of North Korea in war situation. ROK will continue to clear landmines for the sake of civilians safety from the periphery of some military camps and bases of the rear area which were buried in the ground before 1997.”[27] In July 2001, the Ministry of National Defense announced the completion of clearance of five minefields in the rear area,[28] and in April 2002, the ROK told Landmine Monitor two more minefields in the rear had been cleared.[29]

Other mine clearance operations were conducted as part of the inter-Korean transportation project, which South Korea and North Korea agreed during the Second Inter-Korean Ministerial Talks in July 2000. The September 2000 First Defense Ministerial Talks agreed that the ROK Armed Forces had the responsibility to clear an area spreading 9.2 kilometers south of the DMZ and north of the Imjin River.[30]

In 2001, 840 landmines were removed from the construction sites of the Seoul-Shinuiju railway and Kaesong-Munsan highway.[31] As of 20 November 2001, the ROK Armed Forces reported to have successfully cleared 850,000 square meters of minefields in the transportation linkage sites south of the DMZ without any accidents.[32] South Korea stated that it would continue to clear mines in the transportation corridor within the DMZ, only if North Korea signs the February 2001 agreement governing the conduct of troops working in the DMZ.[33]

The ROK government has not conducted any mine risk education campaigns for civilians. According to the survey in the rear area made by KCBL, the residents of 36 mine-affected districts have not received any mine risk education from the military or the local government. KCBL conducted mine risk education in primary schools near the DMZ using videos. In 2001, it reached 1,100 school children.

In 2001, the ROK government contributed US$150,000 for mine clearance abroad: US$30,000 to the International Trust Fund for Bosnia and Herzegovina and US$120,000 to the UN Voluntary Trust Fund, earmarking US$70,000 for Cambodia and US$50,000 for Laos.[34]


In 2001, four new casualties of landmine incidents were reported. Three were civilians: a 40-year-old man stepped on an M14 mine while at the beach with his family and suffered a leg injury; a 30-year-old man injured his leg while working on the sand bank of Hantan River;[35] and a 35-year-old man was injured by an M16 mine as he rode on a small tractor in Chulwon.[36] The fourth casualty was a US Army soldier, who also suffered a leg injury.[37]

Casualties continue to be reported in 2002. In April, at Kegok-ri in Kyunggi-do, six people including a 5-year-old boy were injured by a mine in a rice field.[38] And in a separate incident in April in the DMZ, three Korean soldiers were injured by a landmine while trying to recover the body of a man who had been killed in an earlier mine explosion.[39] The man, who has been living close to the DMZ for 30 years, apparently entered a prohibited military area to pick herbs.

Although there is no reliable data, the Korean Campaign to Ban Landmines estimates that since the end of the war, there have been more than 1,000 civilian mine casualties, and 2,000-3,000 military mine casualties in South Korea.[40]


While the government states that it pays compensation to civilian casualties of landmines through the State Compensation Act, it seems very few survivors are actually receiving any government benefits. On 27 October 2001, Landmine Monitor researchers from the Asia-Pacific region visited a Korean village in the vicinity of Yoncheon, near the DMZ, and met with five landmine survivors; all stated that they did not get any government benefits.

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 discourages mine survivors’ legitimate requests. The KCBL intends to sue the Korean and US governments and ask for compensation for the survivors who could not request it due to the three-year statute of limitation.

In June 2001, the Special Compensation Board of the National Defense Ministry denied the claim of two civilian survivors on the basis that they were injured by “unknown landmines which Korean Army has not used.”[41] The claimants were injured by landmines on 11 September and 2 October 2000 at Kangwhado Island. The ROK government has reported to Landmine Monitor that two civilian mine survivors filed compensation claims with the government in 2001, and that one was granted and one denied.[42]

KCBL provided financial support to 20 landmine survivors from March to December 2001. The survivors received 100,000 Won (around US$80) per month for ten months.


[1] On 26 April 2001, the National Assembly passed Public Law 6476 implementing Amended Protocol II.
[2] Notes taken by Landmine Monitor (HRW), 27 October 2001.
[3] Notes taken by Landmine Monitor (HRW), 30 October 2001.
[4] CISJD, “Campaign to Ban Landmines: the Task and Reality,” Minjung-sha, 1998, p. 71.
[5] The figures for 1998 and 2000 are from: Response of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to KCBL and ICBL, Seoul, 11 April 2002. The figure for 1999 is from Response of ROK Mission to the UN (NY), to Landmine Monitor, 21 March 2000.
[6] Response of Lt. Col Su-yong Song, Deputy Manager of Armaments Control Department, Ministry of National Defense, to KCBL, Seoul, 14 May 2002.
[7] Jane’s Mines & Mine Clearance, 2000-2001, pp. 483-484.
[8] Response from the Information Desk of Hanwha Corporation to Landmine Monitor questionnaire, 28 February 2000.
[9] Statement by Ambassador Chung Eui-yong, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to the UN to the Third Annual Conference of States Parties to Amended Protocol II of the Convention on Conventional Weapons, Geneva, 10 December 2001.
[10] The sales efforts were abandoned. See Landmine Monitor Report 2001, pp. 453-454 for more details.
[11] Human Rights Watch press release, “Landmines: Almost Half of Korea Mines in U.S.,” 3 December 2001. Information provided to Human Rights Watch by the US Army, dated 20 September 2001.
[12] The US sold 31,572 ADAM mines to South Korea during 1986-88.
[13] Caleb Rossiter, Winning in Korea Without Landmines (Washington, DC: VVAF Monograph Series, 2000), p. 34.
[14] Article 13 Report, submitted 5 December 2001, p. 6.
[15] Response from Lt. Col Su-yong Song, Ministry of National Defense, to KCBL, 14 May 2002.
[16] See Landmine Monitor Report 1999, p. 333.
[17] Letter from Headquarters, US Army Material Command, to Human Rights Watch, 20 September 2001. Of the mines stored in the ROK, 534,300 are M14s. Of those in the US, 348,100 are M16s.
[18] Saegae Ilbo, 25 August 2000; Jeon Ick-Jin, “Rail Trip Offers View of North,” Joongang Ilbo (South Korean daily newspaper), 24 January 2002. The Civilian Control Zone is also known as the “Military Control Zone.” See Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 545, for further information about the CCZ. Nearly all the antipersonnel mines planted in these areas are US M16 or US M14 mines. Other US landmines used in Korea include M2, M3, and M26 mines. Jane’s Mines & Mine Clearance, 2000-2001 (Alexandria, VA: Jane’s Information Group), p. 661.
[19] Written response from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to KCBL and ICBL, 11 April 2002.
[20] US Department of State, “To Walk the Earth in Safety,” Appendix F, November 2001, p. A-52.
[21] Kang Seok-Jae, “Air Force Removing Landmines at Air Defense Units,” Korea Herald, 2 April 2001.
[22] Response of Ministry of National Defense to Lawmaker Sung-ho Kim, National Congress, Seoul, 10 October 2000.
[23] ROK government response to Landmine Monitor, 24 April 2002.
[24] “1,000 Land Mines Unaccounted For,” Korea Times, 17 September 2001.
[25] Park Min-sun, “Civic Group Highlights Land Mine Danger in World Cup Cities,” Digital Chosun, 26 July 2001; Soh Ji-young, “Civil Group to Investigate Landmines Near US Bases,” Korea Times, 6 August 2001. The survey was conducted by the Korea Campaign to Ban Landmines and the Japanese Campaign to Ban Landmines.
[26] ROK government response to Landmine Monitor, 24 April 2002.
[27] Article 13 Report, Amended Protocol II, CCW, 5 December 2001, p. 5.
[28] Joongang Ilbo (South Korean daily newspaper), Seoul, 26 July 2001. The five minefields were Mt. Joong-ri, and Haeundae in Pusan, Keumo-ri in Hadong, Mt. Geomdan, and Kwangjoo in Kyongi-do. Also response of the ROK government, 24 April 2002.
[29] ROK government response to Landmine Monitor, 24 April 2002.
[30] Article 13 Report, 5 December 2001, p. 5.
[31] Ibid.; Response of ROK government, 24 April 2002.
[32] Article 13 Report, 5 December 2001, pp. 10-11.
[33] Ibid., p. 11.
[34] Response of ROK government to Landmine Monitor questionnaire, 24 April 2002.
[35] KCBL database on mine casualties.
[36] ROK government response to Landmine Monitor, 24 April 2002.
[37] See Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 548.
[38] KCBL database on mine casualties.
[39] “Three South Korean soldiers hurt in search near DMZ,” Reuters, Seoul, 25 April 2002.
[40] See Landmine Monitor Report 1999, p. 480.
[41] Joongang Ilbo, 28 June 2001. KCBL recognizes that the incident may have been caused by North Korean mines shifted by flooding on Kangwhado Island.
[42] ROK government response to Landmine Monitor, 24 April 2002.