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Republic of Korea , Landmine Monitor Report 2007

Republic of Korea

Mine Ban Treaty status

Not a State Party

Use, production, transfer in 2006-2007

Production (see below)


407,800, plus US stocks



Demining in 2006

8 military sites (area not stated)

Estimated area of contamination

32 km2 with 1,300 mined sites

MRE capacity


Mine/ERW casualties in 2006

1 adult civilian from mines

(2005:10 from mines)

Estimated mine/ERW survivors


Availability of services in 2006


Mine action funding in 2006

International: none reported

National: $2,200,520/€1,751,587

Key developments since May 2006

South Korea acknowledged for the first time that it is producing self-destructing antipersonnel mines, designated KM74. It stated that it produces Claymore mines only in command-detonated mode. South Korea exported about 1,000 Claymores to New Zealand in 2006. The latest estimate of contamination is much increased from the 2003 estimate (22 km2).

Mine Ban Policy

The Republic of Korea (ROK)—South Korea—has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty. In October 2006, South Korea explained its abstention on the vote on the annual UN General Assembly resolution calling for universalization and full implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty: “As we have repeatedly emphasized on previous occasions, the Republic of Korea fully sympathizes with the spirit and objectives of the Ottawa Convention. We firmly believe that this important Convention plays, and will continue to play a central role in alleviating human suffering caused by anti-personnel landmines. However, given the security situation on the Korean Peninsula, we are compelled to give priority to our security concerns, and are therefore at this point unable to accede to the Convention.”[1] South Korea is one of the small number of countries that has abstained from voting on every pro-mine ban UN General Assembly resolution since 1996.

South Korea did not attend as an observer the Seventh Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty in September 2006, or the intersessional Standing Committee meetings in May 2006 and April 2007.

South Korea is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and its Amended Protocol II on landmines. South Korea participated in all CCW meetings in 2006, and submitted its annual report required by Article 13 of Amended Protocol II.[2]


In its April 2007 response to a Landmine Monitor questionnaire, South Korea acknowledged for the first time that it has begun production of self-destructing antipersonnel mines. The government reported to Landmine Monitor that in 2006 the Hanwha Corporation, a private enterprise, produced about 8,900 self-destructing antipersonnel mines, designated KM 74, which can be set to self-destruct 48 hours after deployment.[3] These mines presumably are copies of the United States M 74 mine, which is typically used with the Ground Emplaced Mine Scatterable System (GEMSS), a towed mine disperser system, and presumably are being produced in conformity with the requirements of Amended Protocol II.

South Korea has produced two types of Claymore directional fragmentation mines, designated KM18A1 and K440.[4] South Korean officials clarified in November 2006 and April 2007 that the country only produces Claymore mines in command-detonated mode, and not with tripwires.[5] In 2006, Hanwha Corporation produced about 1,000 remote-controlled KM18A1 Claymores, which it exported to New Zealand.[6]

In April 2007, the government told Landmine Monitor that research on alternatives to antipersonnel mines “is currently suspended,” but “will be resumed at a future date.”[7]


South Korea states that it “has faithfully enforced an indefinite extension of the moratorium on the export of AP mines since 1997 which does not include Claymore-type mines.”[8] Hanwha Corporation sold 1,000 remote-controlled Claymore mines to New Zealand in 2006 and about 1,050 in 2005.[9] Other than these Claymore mines, South Korea is not known to have exported any antipersonnel mines in the past.

South Korea did not import any antipersonnel landmines in 2006.[10] Earlier South Korean mine imports from the US are described in previous Landmine Monitor reports.


In May 2006, South Korea for the first time provided details on its stockpile of antipersonnel mines, citing a figure of 407,800 antipersonnel mines, including 382,900 non-self-destructing mines (M2, M3, M14, M16, and M18) and 24,900 self-destructing mines (M74).[11] It repeated this information in its April 2007 response to Landmine Monitor.[12] Previously, the government stated that it held a stockpile of about two million antipersonnel mines.[13]

The US military stockpiles about 1.1 million M14 and M16 antipersonnel mines for use in any future war in Korea.[14] While US Army documents indicate about half of those mines are stored in the continental United States, the South Korean government has said the entire stock is located in South Korea.[15] The US military also keeps in South Korea a substantial number of self-destructing scatterable antipersonnel mines. In 2005, the South Korean government reported that the US held 40,000 GATOR, 10,000 VOLCANO and an unknown number of MOPMS mines.[16]

Most of the US mines in South Korea are part of the more extensive War Reserve Stocks for Allies, Korea (WRSA-K). The WRSA-K are munitions stored in South Korea but kept under US title and control, then made available to US and South Korean forces in case of an emergency. On 30 December 2005, President George Bush signed Public Law 109-159, authorizing the sale of items in the WRSA-K to South Korea during a three-year period, after which the WRSA-K program will be terminated.[17] The law states that any items remaining in the WRSA-K at the time of termination “shall be removed, disposed of, or both by the Department of Defense.”[18]

The Pentagon determines which items to offer for sale to South Korea. It is not clear if antipersonnel mines are among the items that have been or will be offered.[19] It is also not clear how any sale would be permitted under the comprehensive US prohibition on transfer of antipersonnel mines in effect since 1992.

The South Korean government told Landmine Monitor in April 2007 that it had not purchased any of the US antipersonnel mine stockpile, but that bilateral negotiations about various items were still ongoing.[20]

Landmine and UXO Problem

The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and the Military Control Zone (MCZ) immediately adjoining the southern boundary of the DMZ, remain among the most heavily mined areas in the world due to extensive mine-laying during the Korean War and in the 1960s, 1978 and 1988.[21] In April 2007 South Korea revealed that there are about 1,300 mined sites, an area of about 32 million square meters in the DMZ, the MCZ and below the MCZ. About 970,000 mines are emplaced in the southern part of the DMZ and in the MCZ, and about 30,000 mines in the northern parts of the Gyeonggi-do and Gangwon provinces, an area about 2.6 million square meters, below the MCZ.[22]

The extent of contamination declared by South Korea in April 2007 is substantially more than the 21.8 square kilometers of confirmed minefields reported by the Ministry of National Defense in 2003.[23] The 2003 estimate was said to include “unconfirmed” minefields covering 90.7 square kilometers. South Korea’s army defines unconfirmed minefields as areas that are suspected to be mined, but for which there are no maps or other reliable information; it marks them with “Unconfirmed Minefield Danger” signs.[24]

Mine Action Program

South Korea has undertaken limited demining in the DMZ and MCZ but has concentrated most efforts on demining military bases in rear areas. Clearance operations are conducted by the South Korean army.[25] The government said in early 2007 there were no civilian demining companies in South Korea but that it is drafting legislation that will allow private companies to engage in mine clearance operations on private land.[26]

In 2006, the military cleared some 133,700 square meters in the southern part of the DMZ and removed about 900 mines. It also demined 95,300 square meters in the rear area below the MCZ, disposing of about 6,900 mines. The government said about 67,800 soldiers participated in the operations.[27]

However, South Korea’s 2006 CCW Article 13 report stated that in the year to the end of October 2006 it demined eight military sites, clearing about 80,000 square meters of land and disposing of 6,600 mines, as well as clearing some 58,000 square meters of unconfirmed minefields and disposing of 490 mines.[28]

In March 2007, the Ministry of National Defense said that the military was going to demine 14 sites in 2007, including five unidentified mined sites below the MCZ.[29] In an earlier statement, the ministry said that the military had already cleared seven unidentified sites and planned to clear 10 additional sites by 2009.[30]

In May 2007, two passenger trains crossed the heavily fortified border between North and South Korea for the first time in more than 50 years. The railway line was cleared of heavy mine contamination by troops from both Koreas in 2002.[31]

Mine Risk Education

The Ministry of National Defense currently conducts two types of MRE programs: one for the armed forces and the other for civilians living in the dangerous areas. The military program consists of two courses for apprenticeships and on-the-job training. Local residents near the mined sites are informed of the danger and any landmine clearance plan before the army conducts demining operations. Although the details are not available, the government claims that the military holds meetings with local people to provide specific information on landmines.[32]

Landmine/UXO Casualties

In 2006, there was at least one new landmine casualty: a 44 year-old man was slightly injured in November 2006 by an unknown mine type in Gyeonggi-do province. No new military mine casualties were reported.[33] This is a decrease from 2005, when there were at least 10 mine casualties (one person killed and nine injured).[34] Also, in Sri Lanka, a South Korean businessperson was injured with two Sri Lankans in a landmine incident on 19 April 2006.[35]

Reportedly, there are on average 10 new mine casualties annually in the DMZ.[36]

Landmine Monitor does not have information on casualties in the Republic of Korea in the first months of 2007.[37]

There is no comprehensive official data on mine casualties in South Korea. Between 1999 and 2006, at least 60 new mine casualties were recorded. The Korean Campaign to Ban Landmines (KCBL) estimates that more than 1,000 civilians and 2,000 to 3,000 military personnel have been killed or injured by mines since the war. All records of landmine incidents are kept by the military police departments and the Criminal Investigation Center of the Ministry of National Defense.[38]

Survivor Assistance

South Korean civilian mine survivors are eligible for government compensation through the State Compensation Act. Medical bills for civilian mine survivors are covered by the national medical insurance system. It seems that very few survivors are actually receiving any government benefits; no successful claims were filed in 2006.[39]

Soldiers injured while on duty receive a pension and free medical services from the Veterans Hospital.[40]

In September 2005, KCBL submitted a draft Special Act for Compensation of Mine Victims to the National Congress, and as of May 2007 the legislation was still pending in the Assembly, despite KCBL advocacy for approval of the bill.[41]

South Korea has legislation to protect the rights of people with disabilities: the 1989 Welfare Law for Persons with Disabilities; the 1990 Act for the Promotion of Employment of Persons with Disabilities; and, the 1994 Special Education Promotion Law.[42]

On 30 March 2007 the government signed the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, but not the Optional Protocol. In December 2006, the Republic of Korea announced that it would hold a world assembly on people with disabilities in September 2007, which would “discuss follow-up steps after the [UN] Convention [on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities] is adopted.”[43]

Discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, education or the provision of other state services is illegal. Although the law requires companies employing more than 300 staff to either hire people with disabilities or pay a fine, implementation remained significantly lower; people with disabilities make up less than one percent of the work force.[44]

Funding and Assistance

South Korea reported national funding of mine action in 2006 as KOR2.1 billion (US$2,200,520).[45] About KOR6 billion (just under $6 million) was spent on mine clearance in South Korea in 2005.[46]

In 2006, South Korea also contributed $50,000 to the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Thematic Trust Fund for Crisis Prevention and Recovery ($30,000 designated for Jordan and $20,000 for Croatia).[47]

South Korea did not provide funding to the UN Development Group (UNDG) Iraq Trust Fund in 2006, whereas in 2005 it contributed about $1 million (95 percent of its mine action funding in 2005) and in 2004 provided $3.15 million.[48] UNDP reported that in 2007 South Korea (and Greece) would provide “additional support” through the Iraq Trust Fund to assist the creation of a national mine action NGO in Iraq capable of operating according to the International Mine Action Standards (IMAS).[49] As of June 2007, no additional funds had been provided by South Korea.[50]

[1] Republic of Korea, “Explanation of Vote (EOV) on Draft Resolution L.47/Rev.1,” 26 October 2006. These remarks were made after the vote on the resolution in First Committee.

[2] CCW Amended Protocol II Article 13 Report, 1 November 2006. The report consists only of a new Form B on mine clearance and rehabilitation programs, citing the number of mines and size of areas cleared in 2006.

[3] “Republic of Korea’s Responses to the Questionnaire on Landmines,” Response to Landmine Monitor from the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea (ROK) to the UN, New York, 16 April 2007.

[4] There has been conflicting information about possible past production of a copy of the US M16 antipersonnel mine. See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, pp. 680-681.

[5] ICBL meeting with Younghyo Park, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of the ROK to the UN in Geneva, and Cr. Kim, Ministry of Defense, Geneva, 16 November 2006; Response of the Permanent Mission of the ROK to the UN, New York, 16 April 2007.

[6] Response of the Permanent Mission of the ROK to the UN, New York, 16 April 2007.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid. See also Landmine Monitor Report 2006, p. 958.

[10] Response of the Permanent Mission of the ROK to the UN, New York, 16 April 2007.

[11] Ibid, 9 May 2006.

[12] Ibid, 16 April 2007.

[13] Response to Landmine Monitor (KCBL) from Col. Gi-Ok Kim, Director, International Arms Control Division, Ministry of National Defense, 13 May 2003. In May 2005, the ROK stated that, “there are about twice as many landmines in stockpile as those that are buried,” and the government estimated one million buried mines. Response of the Permanent Mission of the ROK to the UN, New York, 25 May 2005. Landmine Monitor reported that the stockpile includes 960,000 M14 mines that were made detectable before July 1999 in order to comply with CCW Amended Protocol II, and that South Korea also holds unknown numbers of self-destructing mines, apparently including more than 31,000 US ADAM artillery-delivered mines. See Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 544.

[14] Response of the Permanent Mission of the ROK to the UN, New York, 14 April 2004; see also Landmine Monitor Report 1999, p. 333.

[15]See Landmine Monitor Report 2006, p. 958.

[16]Response of the Permanent Mission of the ROK to the UN, New York, 25 May 2005. In its May 2006 and April 2007 responses, the government indicated that information on US stocks is classified.

[17] Public Law 109-159, An Act to authorize the transfer of items in the War Reserve Stockpile for Allies, Korea, December 30, 2005, p. 119, stat. 2955-2956. See also, Sung-ki Jung, “Seoul Seeks Partial Purchase of US War Reserve Stocks,” Korea Times, 3 January 2006. The law, section 1(a)(2), says that the items available for transfer are: “munitions, equipment, and material such as tanks, trucks, artillery, mortars, general purpose bombs, repair parts, barrier material, and ancillary equipment if such items are—(A) obsolete or surplus items; (B) in the inventory of the Department of Defense; (C) intended for use as reserve stocks for the Republic of Korea; and (D) as of the date of the enactment of this Act, located in a stockpile in the Republic of Korea or Japan.”

[18] Public Law 109-159, Section 1 (c) (2).

[19] The Secretary of Defense has certified that nothing in the WRSA-K is of utility to the United States, and that all items are eligible for sale to South Korea. Information provided to Landmine Monitor (HRW) by the US Senate Armed Services Committee, 15 May 2006.

[20] Response of the Permanent Mission of the ROK to the UN, New York, 16 April 2007.

[21] See Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 1022.

[22]Response of the Permanent Mission of the ROK to the UN, New York, 16 April 2007. This differs from the May 2006 Response, when South Korea cited 970,000 mines in the southern part of the DMZ, about 30,000 mines in the MCZ south of the DMZ and 8,000 in 25 military sites in the northern parts of Gyeonggi-do and Gangwon provinces. Response from the Permanent Mission of the ROK to the UN, New York, 9 May 2006.

[23] See Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 1022.

[24] Ibid.

[25] See Landmine Monitor Report 2005, p. 776.

[26] Response of the Permanent Mission of the ROK to the UN, New York, 16 April 2007.

[27] Ibid.

[28] CCW Amended Protocol II Article 13 Report, Form E, Corrigendum, 22 November 2006.

[29] Press release, Ministry of National Defense, 15 March 2007, www.kcbl.or.kr, accessed 11 April 2007.

[30] Ibid, 27 December 2006.

[31] See also report on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in this edition of Landmine Monitor.

[32]Response of the Permanent Mission of the ROK to the UN, New York, 16 April 2007; see Landmine Monitor 2006, p. 960.

[33] Response of the Permanent Mission of the ROK to the UN, New York, 16 April 2007.

[34] See Landmine Monitor Report 2006, p. 961.

[35] Ibid.

[36] See Landmine Monitor Report 2005, p. 778.

[37] Response of the Permanent Mission of the ROK to the UN, New York, 16 April 2007.

[38] Ibid; see Landmine Monitor Report 2006, pp. 961-962.

[39] Response of the Permanent Mission of the ROK to the UN, New York, 16 April 2007.

[40] See Landmine Monitor Report 2005, p. 778.

[41] See www.kcbl.or.kr, accessed 27 May 2007.

[42] See Landmine Monitor Report 2006, p. 962.

[43] Speech of Hyun Cho, UN Representative, ROK, UN General Assembly, 13 December 2006.

[44] US Department of State, “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices-2006: Republic of Korea,” Washington, DC, 6 March 2007.

[45] Response of the Permanent Mission of the ROK to the UN, New York, 16 April 2007.

[46] Ibid, 9 May 2006. Average exchange rate for 2005: US$1= KOR1023.75. US Federal Reserve, “List of Exchange Rates (Annual),” 3 January 2006.

[47] Response of the Permanent Mission of the ROK to the UN, New York, 16 April 2007.

[48] See Landmine Monitor Report 2006, p. 960.

[49] Mine Action Support Group, “Newsletter-First Quarter of 2007,” Washington, DC, 24 May 2007, p. 15.

[50] Email from Patricia Ababio, Finance Associate, UNDP, 4 June 2007.