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Country Reports
LM Report 2000 Full Report   Executive Summary   Key Findings   Key Developments   Translated Country Reports


Mine Ban Policy

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has not signed the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. Although the North Korean government has been largely silent on the landmine issue, it is clear that the government has no intention of acceding to the treaty at this time, believing that antipersonnel mines are needed for their national defense. The DPRK was one of just ten nations to abstain on the 1996 United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution urging states to vigorously pursue an international agreement banning antipersonnel landmines. It has been absent for the votes on the UNGA resolutions in 1997, 1998, and 1999 in support of the Mine Ban Treaty. The DPRK did not participate in any of the preparatory meetings of the Ottawa Process, or the treaty negotiations.

In one of the few public statements on the ban, Mr. Kim Sam Jong told the United Nations General Assembly on 4 December 1998 that his government fully supported the “humanitarian purposes and the nature of that Convention,” but could not accede to it “for security reasons” under the present circumstances on the Korean peninsula. He also said that if antipersonnel landmines are to be banned in Korea a “durable peace and stability should be ensured by replacing the present armistice system with a new peace mechanism.”[1]

North Korea has not signed the Convention on Conventional Weapons or its Landmine Protocol. It is a member of the Conference on Disarmament, but has said that it does not take any position on the negotiations of a ban on mine transfers in the CD.[2]

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling, Use

The DPRK produces a Model 15 antipersonnel mine (a copy of the Soviet POMZ-2 fragmentation stake mine), and perhaps a copy of the Soviet wooden PMD-6. It appears that North Korea's mine production is neither extensive nor sophisticated.[3]

The DPRK is not known to have exported AP mines to other countries; its mines have not been found in other countries.[4] It is assumed that North Korea has imported antipersonnel mines from the Soviet Union, People’s Republic of China (PRC), and Eastern European countries in the past. No current information is available on the size or composition of North Korea's stockpile.

A DPRK representative has said that “we use landmines in the area along the military demarcation line, solely for defensive purposes.”[5] While it is not certain how many antipersonnel mines have been planted in the northern sector of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), separating the North from the South, American analysts estimate the number “to be in the hundreds of thousands.”[6]

Landmine Problem and Casualties

A North Korean official has said that, apart from the border area with South Korea, there are no minefields in the DPRK, either left over from the Korean War or otherwise, and that there are no mine problems on the borders with China or Russia.[7] Although difficult to confirm, that appears to be a reasonable claim, based on testimony of refugees.[8]

Occasional injuries – to both soldiers and civilians -- due to mines in or near the DMZ are likely, just as they are happening in the South. The DPRK has claimed that “there are no instances of civilian casualties caused by those mines” in the area.[9] In a rare landmine incident, a U.S. military patrol somehow crossed into the northern sector of the DMZ on 7 December 1979, and stepped on North Korean mines, killing one and wounding four soldiers.[10]

Mine Action

There is no information about any mine clearance, mine awareness, or victim assistance programs in the North. The DPRK has not contributed to the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for mine clearance. However, DPRK has shown some interest in mine clearance by sending a representative to the Mine Ban Treaty Intersessional Standing Committee of Experts on Mine Clearance meeting, held in Geneva, 27-29 March 2000.[11]

A request for information for Landmine Monitor was submitted through the DPRK Mission to the UN in New York in November 1999. There had been no response as of June 2000.


[1] Statement of Mr. Kim Sam Jong, Counselor, Permanent Mission of DPRK to the UN in New York, 4 December 1998, found in Official Records of the UN General Assembly, Fifty-Third session, 79th plenary meeting (A/53/PV79), pp. 8-9.
[2] Telephone interview with Mr. Ri Thae Gun, Counselor, Permanent Mission of the DPRK to the UN in Geneva, 1 March 1999.
[3] See, Eddie Banks, Brassey’s Essential Guide to Anti-Personnel Landmines (London: Brassey’s, 1997), p. 164; Jane’s Mines & Mine Clearance, 1996-1997, p.372, and Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering Mine Database 96.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Statement of Mr. Kim Sam Jong, UN General Assembly, 4 December 1998.
[6] Bill Gertz, “In Korea’s Misnamed DMZ, U.S. Defenders Rely on Mines,” Washington Times, 23 January 1998.
[7] Telephone interview with a North Korean official, Tokyo, 26 February 1999.
[8] Interview, with Buddhist priest Bup Ryun, Chief Executive of Korean Buddhist Sharing Movement, Tokyo, 21 February 1999.
[9] Statement of Mr. Kim Sam Jong, UN General Assembly, 4 December 1998.
[10] “Serious Incidents in the DMZ, 1967-1995,” Korean War Project website, http://www.koreanwar.org.
[11] ICBL, Intersessional Update #5 (7 April 2000); See also www.gichd.ch.