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Country Reports


Mine Ban Policy

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has not signed the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. Though the government has been largely silent on the issue, it is clear that North Korea does not support an international ban on antipersonnel mines, and continues to believe that they are legitimate and important weapons. North Korea was one of only ten governments that abstained on United Nations General Assembly Resolution 51/45, passed 156-0 on 10 December 1996, urging states to vigorously pursue an international agreement banning antipersonnel landmines. North Korea was absent for the votes on the pro-ban UNGA resolutions in 1997 and 1998.

North Korea was one of the only countries that did not participate--even as an observer-- in any of the preparatory meetings of the Ottawa Process, or the treaty negotiations. Even public statements by the government on any aspect of the landmines issue have been extremely rare. During the treaty negotiations in Oslo in September 1997, according to the Russian Tass news agency, Mr. Son Song Pil, the Ambassador of DPRK to Russia, criticized countries like the United States, South Korea and Japan for calling for an exception for the use of antipersonnel mines in the Korean Peninsula. In an interview on 14 September 1997, Mr.Son said that should such an exception be permitted, the treaty would lose its universality and comprehensiveness, and that North Korea is strongly opposed to any attempts to exempt any region from the mine ban treaty.[1]

Before the United Nations General Assembly on 4 December 1998, Mr. Kim Sam Jong, the Counselor of the Permanent Mission of DPRK to the UN in New York, made a short statement on antipersonnel mines.[2] He said that although North Korea recognizes antipersonnel landmines as a humanitarian concern, at this juncture it is impossible for it to join the Mine Ban Treaty owing to the complicated security situation of the Korean Peninsula.[3] In a telephone interview on 24 February 1999, Mr. Kim Sam Jong would only reiterate that that statement is the current position of North Korea.[4]

North Korea has not signed the Convention on Conventional Weapons, and is not a member of the Conference on Disarmament. The Permanent Mission of the DPRK to the United Nations in Geneva said that DPRK does not take any position on the negotiations of ban on mine transfers in CD.[5]


A U.S. government data base indicates that North Korea produces versions of the Soviet POMZ-2 and POMZ-2M fragmentation stake mines.[6] Another data base lists a Model 15, which is described as a stake mine similar in appearance to the Soviet POMZ-2M.[7] North Korea may also have produced wooden blast antipersonnel mines.[8] It appears that North Korea’s mine production is neither extensive nor sophisticated.


North Korea is not known to have exported AP mines to other countries; North Korean mines have not been found in other countries.[9] It is assumed that North Korea has imported antipersonnel mines from the Soviet Union, China, and perhaps others.


No information is available on the size of North Korea’s stockpile. It is likely that it consists of domestically produced mines, mines imported from the Soviet Union, China, and perhaps elsewhere, and possibly still some U.S. mines. A U.S. Army document indicates that the main source for landmines for North Korea in the Korean War was captured U.S. mines.[10]


It is believed that North Korea has planted some one million dumb mines in the Demilitarized Zone and Military Control Zone separating North from South.[11] A similar number are planted on the South side. There is no information that mines have been used outside of this area by North Korean forces.

Landmine Problem

A North Korean authority has said that, apart from the border with South Korea, there are no minefields in the DPRK, either left over from the Korean War or otherwise, and there are no mine problems on the borders with China or Russia.[12] Though difficult to confirm,[13] that appears to be a reasonable claim. Since1995, reportedly 100,000 people have fled from the DPRK to China. According to a Buddhist monk whose organization is assisting North Korean refugees in China and made personal interviews with 1,694 refugees from 30 September 1997 to 15 September 1998, no refugees mentioned landmines being present either in the border area or elsewhere in North Korea.[14] Instead, refugees and journalists noted that DPRK guards are posted every 50–100 meters.[15] The border area with Russia was declared a Free Trade Zone, Rajin-Song Bong, in 1991 and no minefield is suspected.

Occasional injuries due to mines in or near the DMZ and MCZ are likely, as is the case in the South.

Mine Action

North Korea has not contributed to international mine clearance. No known mine clearance mine awareness programs have been conducted. No information is available on mine casualties or survivor assistance programs.

A request for information for Landmine Monitor was submitted to P’yongyang through the Central Headquarters of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan in January 1999, however, no answer had been received as of 1 March 1999.


[1] Jiji Press, Geneva, Sankei Newspaper, 15 September 1997.

[2] Landmine Monitor/Tokyo telephone interview with Mr. Kim Sam Jong, the Counselor, the Permanent Mission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the UN in New York, 24 February 1999.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Landmine Monitor telephone interview with Mr.Ri Thae Gun, Counselor of the Permanent Mission of the DPRK to the UN in Geneva, 1 March 1999.

[6] Mine Web, U.S. Department of State, at http://www.mineweb.org/mfacts.

[7] Sgt R.A. MacDougall, CD, the CFSME Mine Database 96.

[8] Human Rights Watch, Landmines: A Deadly Legacy, p. 470.

[9] Sgt R.A. MacDougall, CD, the CFSME Mine Database 96, and Mine Web, U.S. Department of State.

[10] Human Rights Watch and Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, “In Its Own Words: The U.S. Army and Antipersonnel Mines in the Korean and Vietnam Wars,” July 1997.

[11] Susan Feeney, “Deadly Zone,” Dallas Morning News, 1997.

[12] Landmine Monitor/Tokyo telephone interview with a North Korean Official, 26 February 1999.

[13] Requests for information on landmines in North Korea were made with numerous officials, but all could not or would not give information. Landmine Monitor/Seoul interview, Seoul, 22 January 1999 and Landmine Monitor/Tokyo telephone interviews with high ranking official of the Ministry of Unification in ROK, Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, Ministry of National Defense, Yokota Base of the United States, United Nations command Headquarters in Seoul, and Department of Defense of the United States, from 19 to 24 February 1999

[14] Landmine Monitor/Tokyo personal interview, with Buddhist monk, Pom Nyung, Chief Executive of Korean Buddhist Sharing Movement, Tokyo, 21 February 1999.

[15] Landmine Monitor/Tokyo personal interview with Pom Nyung, Tokyo, 21 February 1999; and Landmine Monitor/Tokyo telephone interviews with Kyodo News Agency, Seoul, Yomiuri News Paper, Seoul, and Sankei News Paper, Tokyo.