Korea, Republic of

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 13 September 2021

Summary

Non-signatory South Korea has acknowledged humanitarian concerns raised by cluster munitions, but has not taken any steps to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It last participated in a meeting of the convention in 2016. South Korea abstained from voting on a key United Nations (UN) resolution promoting the convention in December 2020.

South Korea has not used cluster munitions, but it has produced and exported them. It possesses cluster munitions, but has not shared information on the types and quantities stockpiled.

Policy

The Republic of Korea (South Korea) has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

South Korea has acknowledged the humanitarian concerns raised by cluster munitions, but has not taken any steps to join the convention. At the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in November 2020, South Korea reiterated that “owing to the unique security situation on the Korean peninsula we are not a party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.”[1]

A 2008 Ministry of Defense directive on cluster munitions requires South Korea to only acquire cluster munitions equipped with “safety activation devices that will not result in more than a one per cent failure rate” and to work towards “the development of an alternative weapon system that could replace cluster munitions over the long term.”[2]

South Korea did not participate in any meetings of the Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[3] United States (US) Department of State cables show that US officials met with South Korean representatives to discuss cluster munitions during the process.[4] South Korea attended the Oslo Signing Conference in December 2008 as an observer, where it made a statement explaining that it could not sign the convention.

South Korea participated in the convention’s Sixth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in 2016 as an observer. This remains its first, and to date, only participation in a meeting of the convention. South Korea was invited, but did not attend, the first part of the convention’s Second Review Conference held virtually in November 2020.

In December 2020, South Korea abstained from voting on a key UNGA resolution that urged states outside the convention to “join as soon as possible.”[5] It has abstained from voting on the annual UNGA resolution promoting the convention since it was first introduced in 2015. South Korea has explained its vote each year, always providing the “unique security situation on the Korean Peninsula” as the reason for its abstention.[6]

South Korea has voted in favor of UNGA resolutions condemning the use of cluster munitions in Syria, most recently in December 2020.[7] South Korea voted in favor of a similar Human Rights Council resolution in June 2020.[8]

South Korea also voted in favor of a 2015 UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution expressing concern at the use of cluster munitions in Sudan, as well as a 2014 UNSC resolution expressing concern at the use of cluster munitions in South Sudan.[9]

South Korea is not party to the Mine Ban Treaty.

South Korea is a State Party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and supported efforts to conclude a new CCW protocol on cluster munitions, which failed in 2011. This effectively ended CCW deliberations on cluster munitions, leaving the Convention on Cluster Munitions as the sole multilateral instrument to specifically address the weapon. South Korea has not proposed any further CCW work on cluster munitions since 2011.

Use

South Korea has stated on several occasions that it has never used cluster munitions.[10]

Production and export

South Korea has produced and exported cluster munitions, including rockets, bombs, and projectiles. South Korea licensed the production of cluster munitions from Pakistan and the US.

During 2020, a Ministry of Defense official wrote that no defense company in South Korea produced cluster munitions during 2020,[11] but refused to state if any cluster munition weapons had been exported by the country during the year. Previously, South Korea said that no cluster munitions were manufactured or exported during 2016.[12] In 2014, South Korea said it was producing artillery-delivered cluster munitions.[13]

The Ministry of National Defense said in 2005 that South Korea had stopped production of “old types” of cluster munitions and planned to only produce cluster munitions with self-destruct features.[14]

Two South Korean companies have produced cluster munitions:[15]

  • Hanwha has produced M261 Multi-Purpose Submunition rockets for the Hydra-70 air-to-ground rocket system, as well as KCBU-58B cluster bombs.[16] In 2012, South Korea said that Hanwha produced 42,800 Dual-Purpose Improved Conventional Munition (DPICM) extended-range (base bleed) 155mm artillery projectiles in 2011.[17]
  • Poongsan has advertised a 155mm projectile containing 88 submunitions designated DPICM TP, and another 155mm projectile with submunitions designated DPICM K305.[18] In 2009, Poongsan listed two types of 155mm artillery projectiles that contain submunitions: K308 DPICM TP, containing 88 K224 submunitions; and K310 DPICM B/B, containing 49 K221 submunitions.[19]

Both companies have ties to Pakistan:

  • Hanwha exported an unknown quantity of M261 rockets (each containing nine M73 submunitions) to Pakistan in 2008.[20]
  • Poongsan entered into a licensed production agreement with Pakistan Ordnance Factories in 2004 to co-produce K310 155mm DPICM projectiles in Pakistan.[21]

Local company, LIG Nex1, advertised a missile system designated Haeseong II—also known as Sea Dragon—for the Republic of Korea Navy, at a military trade exhibition in Busan in October 2017. The missile is reportedly equipped with a submunition warhead, but it is not clear which company produces the submunitions used in this weapons system.[22]

The US concluded a licensing agreement with South Korea in 2001 for production of DPICM submunitions for M26 rockets used with the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS).[23]

South Korea has not established a moratorium policy in response to calls to formally commit to stop exporting cluster munitions.[24]

Imports

A Ministry of Defense policy directive issued in 2008 requires that South Korea only acquire cluster munitions equipped with self-deactivation devices that would not result in more than a 1% failure rate.

Under a US sale announced in June 2012, South Korea purchased 367 CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapons at an estimated cost of US$325 million, including associated parts, equipment, and logistical support.[25] In 2014, the US Department of Defense concluded a contract to be completed by 2016 for US company Textron Defense Systems to provide 361 cluster bomb units for foreign military sale to South Korea.[26] The CBU-105 is prohibited by the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

South Korea has imported several types of cluster munitions from the US in the past, including M26 rockets, M26A1 extended-range rockets, and ATACMS missiles for its MLRS launchers. Between 1993 and 1999, the US provided 393 M26A1 extended-range rocket pods, 271 M26 rocket pods, 111 ATACMS (Block-1) missiles, and 111 ATACMS (Block-1A) missiles.[27] South Korea also has received US-made artillery projectiles containing DPICM submunitions (M483A1, M864, and M509A1).[28] In 2001, the US supplied South Korea with 16 of each of the following cluster bombs: CBU-87, CBU-97, CBU-103, and CBU-105.[29] Jane’s Information Group lists South Korea as possessing CBU-87 and Rockeye cluster bombs.[30]

Stockpiling and destruction

South Korea has not shared information on the types and quantities of its stockpiled cluster munitions.

During 2020, a Ministry of Defense official wrote that South Korea had not destroyed any expired cluster munitions during the year of 2020.[31]

According to a US Department of State cable, a senior Ministry of National Defense official told the US in 2007 that “more than 90 percent” of South Korea’s stockpiled cluster munitions lack self-destruct features and described the cost of retrofitting them as “prohibitive.”[32]


[1] South Korea, Explanation of Vote, UN General Assembly (UNGA) First Committee, video record, 6 November 2020, 2:39:40. See also, South Korea, Explanation of vote on draft Resolution A/C.1/L.46, “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UN General Assembly (UNGA) First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 5 November 2019. Statement of South Korea, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 11 October 2009. In December 2008, a South Korean official reportedly told media, “We value the intent of the [convention], but considering the current relations between the North and the South, we can’t sign it.” See, “Facing military confrontation, South Korea clings to cluster munitions,” Mainichi Daily News, 8 December 2008.

[2] Republic of Korea, Explanation of Vote on Resolution L.41, UNGA First Committee, New York, 31 October 2017. UNGA, Official Records, A/C.1/72/PV26, pp. 5/29.

[3] For more details on South Korea’s policy and practice regarding cluster munitions through early 2009, see Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 217–219.

[4] In September 2011, Wikileaks released a US Department of State cable from January 2007 that stated that South Korea apparently considered participating in the first meeting of the Oslo Process as an observer, because it was reportedly concerned that the cluster munition “issue will be co-opted just as the landmine issue was in the Ottawa process.” See, “ROKG supportive of US position on cluster munitions,” US Department of State cable 07SEOUL219 dated 23 January 2007, released by Wikileaks on 1 September 2011. In February 2007, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade official reportedly told US officials that the South Korean government decided against attending the Oslo Conference on Cluster Munitions in February 2007 because of its “understanding that the United Kingdom and the United States would not attend.” See, “ROKG will not attend Oslo CM conference,” US Department of State cable 07SEOUL374 dated 7 February 2007, released by Wikileaks on 1 September 2011.

[5]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions”, UNGA Resolution 75/62, 7 December 2020.

[6] South Korea, Explanation of vote on draft Resolution A/C.1/L.46, “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 5 November 2019. South Korea made similar statements at the UNGA in 2015–2018.

[7]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution 75/193, 16 December 2020. South Korea voted in favor of similar resolutions from 2013–2019.

[8] See, “Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” Human Rights Council Resolution 43/28, 22 June 2020.

[10] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Il Jae Lee, Second Secretary, Disarmament and Nonproliferation Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 4 April 2012; and statement by Amb. Dong-hee Chang, Permanent Mission of South Korea to the UN in Geneva, to the CCW Group of Governmental Experts on Cluster Munitions, Geneva, 7 July 2008.

[11] Official Information Disclosure Request by World Without War, reply received from Choi Kyeong-yeon, Senior manager, Firepower program department of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration, Ministry of National Defense, 31 March 2021. The official declined to provide information regarding export, writing that “Import and export information between countries is classified as exemption to disclosure according to the Official Information Disclosure Act, Article 9. World Without War is a national member of the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) in South Korea.

[12] Disclosure of Information by Public Agencies response from the Inspector General, Defense Acquisition Program Administration, 31 May 2017. Regarding production, the response was, “Defense Acquisition Program Administration acquires weapons systems through research and development and purchasing. After checking with relevant program management department and contract management department, we have identified that no cluster munitions were acquired via domestic defense company from Jan. 1st 2016 to Dec. 31th 2016. Therefore, we consider that no cluster munition was produced by domestic defense company.”

[13] During 2014, a South Korean company produced 155mm Remote Anti-Armor Munition, a cluster munition artillery shell. Reply to an Official Information Disclosure Act request by the Defense Acquisition Program Administration, 11 March 2015.

[14] Communication from the Ministry of National Defense through the Permanent Mission of South Korea to the UN in Geneva, to IKV Pax Christi Netherlands, 3 June 2005.

[15] Both companies were excluded from investment under the Norwegian Petroleum Fund’s ethical guidelines for producing cluster munitions, Poongsan in December 2006 and Hanwha in January 2008. For more details on production by these companies, see HRW and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), p. 219.

[16] Norwegian Ministry of Finance, “Recommendation on exclusion of the companies Rheinmetall AG and Hanwha Corp.,” 15 May 2007.

[17] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Il Jae Lee, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 4 April 2012. The response also stated that Hanwha produced 6,150 227mm rockets for its MLRS launcher during the year.

[18] Letter from Council on Ethics for the Norwegian Government Pension Fund–Global, to the Norwegian Ministry of Finance, “Recommendation of 6 September 2006,” 6 September 2006.

[19] Poongsan, “Defense Products, Howitzer Ammunition,” undated.

[20] See, HRW and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), p. 219.

[21] “Pakistan Ordnance Factory and S. Korean Firm Sign Ammunition Pact,” Asia Pulse, 24 November 2006.

[22]MADEX 2017: LIG Nex1 Showcasing TSLM / Sea Dragon / Haeseong II Land Attack Missile for the 1st Time,” Navy Recognition, 24 October 2017. Details provided by email from Michel Riemersma, Profundo, 14 March 2018.

[23] Notification to Congress pursuant to Section 36 (c) and (d) of the Arms Export Control Act, Transmittal No. DTC 132–00, 4 April 2001.

[24] Reply to an Official Information Disclosure Act request by the Defense Acquisition Program Administration on 11 March 2015. The reply stated, “Information on cluster munition weapons export cannot be disclosed as it falls under the category of the information subjected to non-disclosure under the subparagraph 2 (national defense and diplomatic relations) and 7 (trade secrets of corporations) of the paragraph 1 of the article 9 (Information Subject to Non-Disclosure) of the Official Information Disclosure Act.”

[25] US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), “Republic of Korea – CBU-105D/B Sensor Fuzed Weapons,” News Release No. 12–23, 4 June 2012.

[26]South Korea Buying GPS-Guided WCMD Cluster Bombs,” Defense Industry Daily, 29 May 2014.

[27] US DSCA, “Notifications to Congress of Pending U.S. Arms Transfers,” “Foreign Military Sales,” “Direct Commercial Sales,” and “Excess Defense Articles” databases. M26 rockets each contain 644 submunitions, and there are six rockets to a pod. M26A1 rockets contain 518 submunitions each. ATACMS-1 missiles contain 950 submunitions each.

[28] M483A1 shells each contain 88 submunitions, whereas M864 each contain 72 submunitions.

[29] US DSCA press release, “Republic of Korea - F-15E/K Aircraft Munitions and Avionics,” 15 February 2001. The US also provided 45 AGM-54 joint stand-off weapons (JSOW) bombs, but it is not known if these were the version with submunitions.

[30] Robert Hewson, ed., Jane’s Air Launched Weapons, Issue 44 (Surrey: Jane’s Information Group, 2004), p. 841. CBU-87 bombs have 202 submunitions, and Rockeye cluster bombs have 247 submunitions.

[31] Official Information Disclosure Request by World Without War, reply from Lee Yoo-jung, Deputy Director, Arms Control Division, North Korea Policy Bureau, Office of National Defense Policy, Ministry of National Defense, 22 April 2021.

[32] The Ministry of National Defense reportedly informed the US that “the ROK military was not in a position to dismantle its current CM stockpiles, prohibit CM production or development, or replace their stockpiles with effective alternative weapon systems for at least the next 20 years.” See, “ROKG supports USG cluster munitions policy,” US Department of State cable 07SEOUL1329 dated 7 May 2007, released by Wikileaks on 30 August 2011.


Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 19 October 2020

Policy

The Republic of Korea (South Korea) has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty.

In November 2019, South Korea stated that it “supports the objectives and purposes of the Ottawa Convention,” but that, “due to the security situation on the Korean peninsula, we are currently not a party to the convention.”[1] However, in another statement in October 2017, South Korea for the first time noted, “The Republic of Korea is fully committed to the objectives and purposes of this convention.”[2]

On 12 December 2019, South Korea abstained from voting on the annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 74/61, which calls for the universalization and full implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. South Korea has also abstained in previous years. South Korea has stated consistently that the security situation on the Korean Peninsula prohibits it from acceding to the treaty.[3]

In July 2020, an observer from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs attended the virtual intersessional meetings. In May 2019, South Korea attended the intersessional meetings where it reiterated that it is “fully committed to the objectives and purposes” of the convention, but cannot accede due to the “unique security situation on the Korean Peninsula.”[4] Previously, South Korea had never sent an observer delegation to a meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, and also did not attend the convention’s Fourth Review Conference in Oslo in November 2019.

On 24 September 2019, South Korean President Moon Jae-in requested international cooperation on mine clearance in the demilitarized zone (DMZ).[5] An April 2018 inter-Korean summit pledged to recommence road and rail connections in the east of the Korean peninsula.[6] Mine clearance to facilitate these connections halted in 2002.[7] In September 2018, the South Korean army called for the establishment of an agency dedicated to removing border landmines as part of efforts to implement the April inter-Korean summit agreement.[8] At the September 2018 inter-Korean summit, leaders from both sides agreed to begin removal of landmines from a jointly controlled village on the DMZ.[9] In October 2019, the South Korean Ministry of Defense announced its intention to remove all mines from military installations south of the DMZ by 2021 and began the clearance task in April 2020.[10]

In November 2019, South Korea’s international development agency, the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), convened a meeting of representatives of mine clearance efforts that KOICA financially supports in Southeast Asia in order to determine what lessons could be learned from those programs to inform mine clearance in South Korea.[11]

In November 2018, the Korean Campaign to Ban Landmines/Peace Sharing Association (KCBL/PSA) organized an International Symposium on the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for Mine Clearance in the DMZ in cooperation with and on the campus of Yonsei University in Seoul. The symposium was launched in support of the demining initiative undertaken in the DMZ by North and South Korea, and brought together representatives of several government departments and the military with international organizations involved in mine clearance and victim assistance.[12] Subsequently, in January 2019, the United Nations Command (UNC) organized a first seminar on mine action in the DMZ.[13]

In September 2019, KCBL/PSA, at the request of the South Korean Ministry of Defense, began the translation of the International Mine Action Standards (IMAS) into Korean for use by the South Korean armed forces. This translation was completed and delivered in December 2019, and is now being used by the Ministry of Defense to prepare Korean Mine Action Standards.[14] Also in September 2019, the KCBL/PSA, in cooperation with the provincial government of Gyeoggi province, launched a survey of mine/unexploded ordinance (UXO) civilian victims and a non-technical survey of the province.[15] In late 2015, the KCBL/PSA published a report entitled “Civilian Mine Victims in Gangwon Province, Korea.” The report provided the most comprehensive picture of the status of the landmine problem in one of the two provinces that border the DMZ. The report provides the only public accounting of mined areas in the country, a listing of the casualties in Gangwon province since 2000, and data regarding mined areas that have been scheduled for removal by the Ministry of National Defense.[16] During 2019, KCBL/PSA undertook a survey of the other province bordering the DMZ, Gyeoggi province, which reported 291 antipersonnel mine victims and 346 victims of other UXO.[17]

After a 15-year struggle by the KCBL/PSA, the National Assembly passed the Special Act on Landmine Victim Assistance in September 2014. The Special Act stipulates that those who fall victim to landmines and the family members of those killed by the weapon and designated as their heirs will receive compensation. The KCBL coordinator is Chairperson for the Sub-committee of the Mine Victim Support Deliberation Committee at the Ministry of Defense in Seoul.

It is unknown what percentage of mines in the areas to be cleared were laid by United States (US) forces when the area was under US control. The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) does not allow the South Korea to make any claims of the US forces, including records of where US forces may have laid mines. The issue of US forces is extremely sensitive in South Korea, where the country currently pays for 100% of the US military presence.

Previously, in April 2011, Prince Mired Raad Al Hussein, the Special Envoy on Universalization for the Mine Ban Treaty, visited South Korea where he met with the Deputy Minister for Policy of the Ministry of National Defense, the Deputy Minister of Multilateral and Global Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Chief of the High Court of the Republic of Korea Armed Forces to explore ways that South Korea may wish to engage in the work of the treaty.[18]

In September 2014, South Korea’s key military ally, the US, announced a new policy committing not to use antipersonnel landmines outside of the Korean Peninsula. Additionally, then-US President Barack Obama commented, “We’re going to continue to work to find ways that would allow us to ultimately comply fully and accede to the Ottawa Convention.” In September 2017, during a Memorial Day ceremony, South Korean President Moon Jae-in stated that he intended to take the right of Wartime Operation Control away from the US Army as soon as possible. When this occurs, there will no longer be any obstacle from South Korea for the US to join the Mine Ban Treaty.[19] However, in January 2020, the US Department of Defense announced a new policy permitting planning for, and use of, antipersonnel mines in conflicts, either within or outside of the Korean Peninsula.[20]

South Korea is not a party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and its Amended Protocol II on landmines.[21]

Use

In August 2019, South Korea informed the ICBL that it has not emplaced any new mined areas since 2000.[22] South Korea maintains that it has not used mines in many years. In September 2018, a Ministry of National Defense official stated that no new mines were placed, or replaced, in calendar year 2017 or until August 2018.[23] In May 2017, South Korean authorities stated that the country did not place, or replace, any antipersonnel mines during calendar years 2015 and 2016.[24]

South Korea alleged that in August 2015, two South Korean soldiers on patrol on the South Korean side of the DMZ at Yeonchon, in Gyeonggi province, were injured by newly laid antipersonnel mines. Initial news reports quoting South Korean military sources stated that the mines were not of North Korean origin.[25] The type of mine was later stated by the South Korean military to be North Korean wooden box mines (PMD-6 type).[26]

North Korea issued a denial of use, stating it only used mines in self-defense.[27] At a press conference in New York on 21 August 2015, the North Korean ambassador to the UN asserted that the South Korean military had identified the mine as an M14 on 4 August and then changed it to a North Korean box mine on 10 August for political purposes.[28]

The US-led UN Command deployed a Special Investigation Team from the Military Armistice Commission to examine the area after the incident. The team included military officers of four countries and was observed by Swiss and Swedish members of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission. The investigation concluded “that the North Korean People’s Army violated paragraphs 6, 7 and 8 of the Armistice Agreement by emplacing wooden box land mines along a known Republic of Korea patrol route in the southern half of the Demilitarized Zone, injuring two Republic of Korea soldiers. Additionally, the investigation determined that the devices were recently emplaced, and ruled out the possibility that these were legacy landmines which had drifted from their original placements due to rain or shifting soil.”[29] North Korean wooden box antipersonnel mines are regularly reported to float into South Korean territory, including in 2017.[30]

Production and Transfer

In August 2019, South Korea informed the ICBL that it had not produced any antipersonnel landmines in the previous five years.[31] Until South Korea renounces future mine production, it will remain listed by the Monitor as a producer of antipersonnel mines.

In May 2017, South Korea responded to an ICBL information request that it had not produced any antipersonnel mines without a self-destruction mechanism during 2016.[32] In 2011, a private South Korean company, Hanwha Corporation, produced 4,000 KM74 antipersonnel mines.[33] In 2007, the Hanwha Corporation produced about 10,000 self-destructing antipersonnel mines, as well as an unknown number of Claymore directional fragmentation mines.[34]

In both 2011 and 2012, Foreign Ministry officials stated that the government commissioned the development of remotely-controlled mines, which will replace antipersonnel mines, and that the newly developed mines will meet the requirements set out in Amended Protocol II of the CCW.[35]

South Korea has stated on several occasions that it has “faithfully enforced an indefinite extension of the moratorium on the export of [antipersonnel] mines since 1997.”[36]

Stockpiling

The precise size and composition of South Korea’s antipersonnel mine stockpile is not publicly known.[37] However, South Korea said in 2006 and 2008 that its stockpile consisted of 407,800 antipersonnel mines.[38] In the past, the government stated that it held a stockpile of about two million antipersonnel mines.[39]

In September 2018, in response to a request for information, the South Korean Ministry of National Defense stated that the army had destroyed 186 tons of non-usable antipersonnel landmines that had been in storage between 1 January 2017 and 1 August 2018.[40] In May 2017, in response to a request for information, the South Korean government wrote that it had destroyed 19,662 M16 and 1,647 M14 mines during calendar years 2015 and 2016.[41] South Korea previously reported in 2011 that it had destroyed 18,464 antipersonnel mines (5,132 M14, 12,086 M16, and 1,246 M18) in the ammunition units where they were stored during 2010. The date(s) of the destruction and reason for this action were not specified.[42]

The US military keeps a substantial number of remotely-delivered, self-destructing antipersonnel mines in South Korea. In 2005, the South Korean government reported that the US held 40,000 GATOR, 10,000 Volcano, and an unknown number of MOPMS mines.[43]

For many years, the US military also stockpiled about 1.1 million M14 and M16 non-self-destructing antipersonnel mines for use in any future war in Korea, with about half of the total kept in South Korea and half in the continental US.[44] Most of the US-owned mines located in South Korea have been part of the more extensive War Reserve Stocks for Allies, Korea (WRSA-K). On 30 December 2005, the US enacted a law authorizing the sale of items in the WRSA-K to South Korea during a three-year period, after which the WRSA-K program would be terminated, which occurred at the end of 2008.[45] In June 2009, the South Korean government told the Monitor, “AP [antipersonnel] mines were not included in the list of items for sale or transfer in the WRSA-K negotiations, and therefore, no AP-mines were bought or obtained.”[46] In June 2011, a Foreign Ministry official stated that South Korea safeguards a stockpile of antipersonnel mines that belongs to the US military on its territory as part of the WRSA-K program. These mines are planned to be gradually transferred out of South Korea.[47] In June 2012, a Foreign Ministry official stated that the antipersonnel mines are in ammunition storage within secure areas of the US Forces Korea.[48]

The law ending the program 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.”[49] Moreover, US policy has prohibited the use of non-self-destructing antipersonnel mines in South Korea since 2010. According to documents released under a Freedom of Information Act request by the Monitor in 2013, the WRSA-K stockpile included 480,267 M-14 antipersonnel mines and 83,319 M-16 antipersonnel mines.[50] In May 2017, South Korean authorities refused to divulge any information regarding WRSA-K stocks of antipersonnel mines.[51] The US has previously destroyed all non-self-destructing mines not dedicated for potential use on the Korean Peninsula. As of October 2015, the Monitor could not determine whether the US indeed maintained non-self-destructing antipersonnel mines in South Korea.



[1] Republic of Korea, Explanation of Vote on Resolution L.45, 74th Session, UN General Assembly (UNGA) First Committee, New York, 6 November 2019. UNGA, Official Records, A/C.1/74/PV25, p. 3. This is almost identical to its 2017 statement. See, Republic of Korea, Explanation of Vote on Resolution L.40, 72nd Session, UNGA First Committee, New York, 31 October 2017. UNGA, Official Records, A/C.1/72/PV26, p. 5/29. In May 2017, South Korean officials repeated this in response to an information request. Disclosure of Information by Public Agencies response from the Arms Control Division, Ministry of National Defense, to World Without War (an ICBL-CMC member organization), 24 May 2017.

[2] Statement by Seo Eunji, Minister Counsellor, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the Conference on Disarmament, UNGA First Committee, New York, 18 October 2017.

[3] For example, in 2014, South Korea reiterated its view that “due to the security situation on the Korean peninsula, we are compelled to give priority to our security concerns and are unable to accede to the Convention at this point, and therefore abstained in the voting on this draft resolution.” Explanation of Vote on Resolution L.5, 69th Session, UNGA First Committee, New York, 3 November 2014. UNGA, Official Records, A/C.1/69/PV.23, p. 18/23.

[4] Statement of Republic of Korea, Mine Ban Treaty intersessional meetings, Geneva, 24 May 2019.

[5] Statement by Moon Jae-in, President of Republic of Korea, UNGA, 24 September 2019. “Approximately 380,000 antipersonnel mines are laid in the DMZ and it is expected to take 15 years for South Korean troops to remove them on their own. However, cooperation with the international community including UNMAS will not only guarantee the transparency and stability of demining operations but will instantly turn the DMZ into an area of international cooperation.”

[6] Adam Taylor, “The full text of North and South Korea’s agreement, annotated,” The Washington Post, 27 April 2018.

[7] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, Republic of Korea’s country profile.

[8]Army calls for establishment of land mine removal center,” Yonhap News Agency, 4 September 2018.

[10]Defense Ministry Vows Removal of Landmines by 2021,” KBS World, 16 October 2019; and “Military launches land mine removal mission in rear area,” The Korean Herald, 6 April 2020.

[11] ‘‘Korea-Mekong Mine/UXO Action Initiative for Peaceful Inclusive Rural Development: Opportunities and Challenges,’’ Seoul, 8 November 2019. Notes by the Monitor. The program was undertaken with the collaboration and advice of the Korean Campaign to Ban Landmines/Peace Sharing Association (KCBL/PSA).

[12] ICBL, “Korean Symposium on NGOs & the DMZ,” 14 November 2018.

[13] UNC held a two-day seminar on mine action in the DMZ, titled “United Nations Command/Combined Forces Command/United States Forces Command, Mine Action Working Group,” Seoul, 10–11 January 2019. The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD), and other humanitarian mine action actors were invited to the event.

[14] Emails from Dr. Jai Kook Cho, Coordinator, KCBL/PCA, 17 August and 30 September 2019.

[15] Ibid.

[16]Civilian Mine Victims in Gangwon Province, Korea,” KCBL/PSA, 16 September 2015. The report was co-published with the Gangwon Provincial Office and the Korean Red Cross.

[17] “Civilian Mine Victims in Gyeoggi Province,” KCBL/PSA, 2020. The survey located 637 victims: 291 landmine victims and 346 UXO victims. 90.9% of victims were men and 8.6 % were women. 51.7% of victims were “young,” and 35% were children. Email from Dr. Jai Kook Cho, Coordinator, KCBL/PSA, 17 August 2020.

[18] Statement of His Royal Highness Prince Mired Raad Al Hussein of Jordan, Special Envoy on the Universalization of the Antipersonnel Mine Ban Convention, Mine Ban Treaty Eleventh Meeting of States Parties, Phnom Penh, 1 December 2011.

[19]S. Korean presidents stresses need for early transfer of wartime operational control from U.S.,” Xinhua, 28 September 2017. The US Campaign to Ban Landmines chair, Human Rights Watch (HRW), welcomed the landmine policy measures as “an important acknowledgement that the Mine Ban Treaty provides the best framework for eradicating antipersonnel mines” but found “the US needs to get past the exception permitting landmine use on the Korean Peninsula and join the treaty.” An editorial on the policy in The New York Times previously observed, “the Pentagon could easily draw up plans for South Korea that exclude American landmines.” See, ‘‘A Step Closer to Banning Landmines,’’ The New York Times, 25 September 2014.

[20] US Department of Defense press release, “Landmine Policy,” Washington D.C., 31 January 2020.

[22] Email to the ICBL from Soonhee Choi, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the UN in Geneva, 22 August 2019.

[23] Disclosure of Information by Public Agencies response from the Arms Control Division, Ministry of National Defense, to World Without War, 4 September 2018.

[24] Ibid., 24 May 2017.

[25] Elizabeth Shim, “Two South Korean soldiers injured in DMZ land mine explosion,” UPI, 4 August 2015.

[26] This particular mine has been found frequently in South Korea and on its coastal islands. In 2010, a South Korean man was killed by the same type of mine in the neighboring county in Gyeonggi Province. See, Landmine Monitor Report 2011.

[27]North Korea Rejects Landmine Blasts Blame,” Sky News, 14 August 2015.

[28] Statement by North Korea’s Ambassador, UN Press Conference, New York, 21 August 2015.

[30] See for example, “N. Korean wooden-box land mine found on border islet,Yonhap News Agency, 28 July 2017; “Two N. Korean wooden-boxed landmines found in border regions after heavy rain”, Yonhap News Agency, 16 August 2020’ and “Military searching for landmines possibly swept from N. Korea by heavy rains”, Yonhap News Agency, 7 August 2020.

[31] Email to the ICBL from Soonhee Choi, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the UN in Geneva, 22 August 2019.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Il Jae Lee, Second Secretary, Disarmament and Nonproliferation Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 4 April 2012. The KM74 mine is a copy of the US M74 self-destructing mine.

[34] See, Landmine Monitor Report 2008, p. 876. South Korea began producing remotely-delivered, self-destructing antipersonnel mines in 2006. South Korea has produced two types of Claymore mines, designated KM18A1 and K440. South Korean officials have stated that the country only produces the devices in command-detonated mode, which are lawful under the Mine Ban Treaty, and not with tripwires, which would be prohibited.

[35] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Il Jae Lee, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 4 April 2012; and email from Chi-won Jung, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 27 June 2011.

[36] “[T]he [South] Korean Government is exercising tight controls over anti-personnel landmines and has been enforcing an indefinite extension of the moratorium on their export since 1997,” Explanation of Vote on Resolution L.5, 69th Session, UNGA First Committee, New York, 3 November 2014. UNGA, Official Records, A/C.1/69/PV.23, p. 18/23.

[37] In 2011 and 2012, South Korean officials declined to reveal to the Monitor the size of South Korea’s stockpile or the types of mines stockpiled. Response to Monitor questionnaire by Il Jae Lee, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 4 April 2012; and email from Chi-won Jung, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 27 June 2011.

[39] In May 2005, South Korea 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 to Monitor questionnaire by the Permanent Mission of South Korea to the UN in New York, 25 May 2005. The 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, including, apparently, more than 31,000 US ADAM artillery-delivered mines. See, Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 544.

[40] Disclosure of Information by Public Agencies response from the Arms Control Division, Ministry of National Defense, to World Without War, 4 September 2018.

[41] Ibid., 24 May 2017.

[42] Email from Chi-won Jung, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 27 June 2011.

[43] Response to Monitor questionnaire by the Permanent Mission of South Korea to the UN, 25 May 2005.

[45] Public Law 109–159, “An Act to authorize the transfer of items in the War Reserve Stockpile for Allies, Korea,” 30 December 2005, p. 119, Stat. 2955–2956.

[46] Response to Monitor questionnaire by the Permanent Mission of South Korea to the UN, 9 June 2009.

[47] Email from Chi-won Jung, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 27 June 2011.

[48] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Il Jae Lee, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 4 April 2012.

[49] Public Law 109–159, “An Act to authorize the transfer of items in the War Reserve Stockpile for Allies, Korea,” 30 December 2005, Section 1(c)(2).

[50] Email from Adrienne M. Santos, Freedom of Information Act Analyst, for Suzanne Council on behalf of Paul Jacobs-Meyer, Chief, Freedom of Information Act Division, US Department of Defense OSD/JS FOIA Office, 24 June 2013.

[51] “Information on retrograde of WRSA-K anti-personnel landmines and transfer of such items from the United States is restricted information as any matter related to ‘Transfer, authorization of retrograde and transportation support of WRSA munitions’ is classified as information subject to non-disclosure under the Operational Directive on Public Disclosure of Information on National Defense.” Disclosure of Information by Public Agencies response from the Arms Control Division, Ministry of National Defense, to World Without War, 24 May 2017.


Mine Action

Last updated: 19 November 2018

 

Treaty status

Mine Ban Treaty

Not a party

Mine action management

National mine action management actors

None

Mine action strategic plan

None

Operators in 2017

South Korean army

Extent of contamination as of end 2017

Landmines

Not known

Cluster munition remnants

None

Land release in 2017

Landmines

102,828m2 cleared, with the destruction of 142 mines

Progress

Landmines

Clearance was reported in October 2018 as a result of a military agreement between North and South Korea to remove all mines in the Joint Security Area of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in Panmunjon in order to excavate the remains of soldiers. No mines were found on the South Korean side

 

Contamination

The Korean War left mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) in the Republic of South Korea, and because of a security threat, South Korea laid barrier minefields along the DMZ separating it from North Korea.

The DMZ and the Civilian Control Zone (CCZ), 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, in 1978, and in 1988. In 2006, South Korea indicated that about 970,000 mines were emplaced in the southern part of the DMZ, about 30,000 mines in the CCZ, and about 8,000 mines in 25 military sites that cover an area of about 3km2 in the northern parts of Gyeonggi-do and Gangwon provinces, below the CCZ.[1] Previously, a report by the National Defense Committee in 2010 said that South Korea had about 1,100 “planned” mined areas covering 20km2 and some 209 unconfirmed mined areas covering 97.82km2.[2]

South Korea has also had to contend periodically with wooden box mines carried by flood water from North Korea during the rainy season. An incident was reported in July 2017, when a wooden mine was found and destroyed on a small island along the maritime border by the South Korean navy during a sweep for displaced box mines after heavy rains.[3] In June 2016, South Korean military officials reported that close to 260 North Korean wooden box mines had washed up along the border region in 2010–2015.[4]

In 2016, as in the previous year, South Korea reported serious allegations of new antipersonnel mine use by North Korea. (See the North Korea’s profile for further details.)

 

Program Management

There is no national mine action authority or mine action center in South Korea. Demining is conducted by the South Korean army, which has undertaken limited clearance of the DMZ and CCZ, and has concentrated mostly on demining military bases in rear areas. In September 2018, it was reported that the South Korean army had called for the establishment of an agency dedicated to removing landmines in the DMZ. The agency would be tasked with planning and executing the removal process.[5]

In 2013, the Ministry of Defense said it had submitted a bill on mines to the parliament to allow civilian organizations to remove mines laid during the Korean War, in order to facilitate ongoing military clearance. “The bill is aimed at making legal grounds and a process to allow both the military and civilians to remove mines so as to protect lives and the property of people,” the ministry said in a press release.[6] As of September 2017, South Korea’s National Assembly had not passed the bill.

 

Land Release

In its latest Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) Amended Protocol II Article 13 transparency report for calendar year 2017, South Korea reported that 462 military deminers had cleared a total of 102,828m2 and destroyed 142 mines, at a cost of US$1.12 million.[7] For 2016, South Korea had reported clearing 191,019m2 and destroyed 134 mines.[8]

In April 2018, the North Korean Leader, Kim Jong-un, and the South Korean President, Moon Jae-in, met and issued a statement promising to bring “lasting peace” to the peninsula with a commitment to denuclearization and to ending hostilities, turning the DMZ into a peace zone.[9] In June 2018, President Moon called for an inter-Korean operation to excavate the remains of soldiers in the DMZ killed in the 1950–1953 Korean War.[10] In September 2018, the North Korean and South Korean ministers of defense signed a military agreement, the Panmunjom Declaration, which mandates that North Korea, South Korea and the United Nations Command (UNC) “will remove all mines in the Joint Security Area (of the DMZ) in Panmunjom within 20 days, beginning on October 1, 2018.”[11] South Korean officials confirmed on 22 October 2018 that clearance of the Joint Security Area in Panmunjom by North and South Korea had been completed.[12] North Korea were reported to have cleared five mines while South Korea found none.[13] Mine clearance will also take place from 1 October 2018 in Cheolwon, Gangwon province, to enable joint recovery of the bodily remains of soldiers, and to enable the establishment of an inter-Korean road within the joint recovery site.[14]

 

 

 

The Monitor acknowledges the contributions of the Mine Action Review (www.mineactionreview.org), which has conducted the primary mine action research in 2018 and shared all its country-level landmine reports (from “Clearing the Mines 2018”) and country-level cluster munition reports (from “Clearing Cluster Munition Remnants 2018”) with the Monitor. The Monitor is responsible for the findings presented online and in its print publications.



[1] Response by the Permanent Mission of South Korea to the United Nations, New York, 9 May 2006.

[2] “Find One Million: War With Landmines,” Korea Times, 3 June 2010.

[3]North Korea Wooden Land Mine Swept into South Korea,” Sputnik International, 28 July 2017.

[6] “S. Korea pushes to allow civilians to remove land mines,” Yonhap, 14 November 2013.

[7] CCW Amended Protocol II Article 13 Report (for 2017), Form B.

[8] Ibid.

[10]S. Korea's first mine-clearing tank wins battle suit,” Aju Business Daily, 9 July 2018.

[12]Koreas finish removing land mines from border village,” Associated Press, 22 October 2018.

[13]Two Koreas Complete Mine Removal in JSA,” KBS World Radio, 19 October 2018.

[14] Agreement on the Implementation of the Historic Panmunjom Declaration in the Military Domain, Song Young-moo and No Kwang Chol, 19 September 2018, Annex 3, p. 9.


Support for Mine Action

Last updated: 17 October 2020

In 2019, the Republic of Korea (South Korea) contributed approximately US$1.7 million to mine action through the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Action (VTF) and ITF Enhancing Human Security.

Contributions by recipient: 2019[1]

Recipient

Sector

Amount (US$)

Congo, Dem. Rep.

Capacity-building and clearance

1,260,000

Global (ITF)

Various

137,683

Palestine

Risk education

124,000

Nigeria

Clearance and risk education

100,000

Sudan

Clearance and risk education

50,000

Global (UNMAS)

Capacity-building

50,000

Total

 

1,721,683

Note: UNMAS=United Nations Mine Action Service.

Since 2015, South Korea’s contribution has ranged from an annual low of $300,000 in 2017, to a high of $2.5 million in 2016.

Summary of contributions: 2015–2019[2]

Year

Amount (US$)

% change from previous year

2019

1,721,683

-13

2018

1,970,000

+557

2017

300,000

-88

2016

2,500,000

+683

2015

319,320

+40

Total

6,811,003

N/A

Note: N/A=not applicable.



[1] ITF Enhancing Human Security, “Annual Report 2019,” March 2020, p. 17; and UNMAS, "Annual Report 2019," pp 32–33, 22 April 2020.

[2] See previous Monitor reports.


Casualties

Last updated: 23 January 2018

Casualties Overview

All known casualties by end 2016

Unknown, estimates from 500–3,000

Casualties in 2016

4 (2015: 2)

2016 casualties by survival outcome

1 killed; 3 injured (2015: 2 injured)

2016 casualties by device type

1 antivehicle mine; 3 antipersonnel mine

 

The Monitor identified four new mine casualties in the Republic of Korea (South Korea) in 2016. All were civilian adult men, one was a Kazakh national.[1]

The total number of mine/ERW casualties is unknown, but the Korea Research Institute for Mine Clearance stated in March 2009 that there were at least 500 civilian survivors.[2] In 2009, the media reported that there were at least 1,000 civilian casualties; the Korean Campaign to Ban Landmines (KCBL) estimated there were 2,000 to 3,000 military casualties.[3] The Monitor identified 92 mine casualties between 1999 and 2016 (18 killed, 73 injured, and one unknown). At least 25 of these casualties were military personnel, including one American soldier injured in 2001. Figures are likely incomplete as there is no comprehensive official data on mine casualties in South Korea.[4]



[1]Foreign worker steps on landmine at inter-Korean border area,” NK News, 6 April 2016; “Landmine blast kills truck driver,” Korea Times, 12 January 2016; and Jae Kook Cho, “Mine Issue in South Korea: Presentation at George Washington University,” 23 June 2016. Text obtained by email, 22 June 2016.

[2] Emails from Kim Ki-Ho, CEO, Korea Research Institute for Mine Clearance, 22 and 23 March 2009.

[3]In South Korea, landmines remain a threat,” Los Angeles Times, 23 December 2009; and ICBL, Landmine Monitor Report 1999: Toward a Mine-Free World (New York: Human Rights Watch, April 1999).

[4] Response to Monitor questionnaire by the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the UN in New York, 9 June 2009.


Casualties and Victim Assistance

Last updated: 26 December 2016

Casualties

Casualties Overview

All known casualties by end 2015

Unknown, estimates from 500–3,000

Casualties in 2015

2 (2014: 8)

2015 casualties by outcome

2 injured (2014: 2 killed; 6 injured)

 

The Monitor identified two new mine/explosive remnants of war (ERW) casualties in the Republic of Korea (South Korea) in 2015. In August, two South Korean soldiers on patrol on the South Korean side of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) at Yeonchon, in Gyeonggi Province, were injured by antipersonnel mines that were alleged to have been newly laid by the North Korean military.[1]

In 2014, the Monitor identified eight new mine/ERW casualties in South Korea. On 6 October 2014, two civilian forestry workers from Daejong were killed and six of their colleagues were injured in a mine incident. The incident took place near a military area but outside the marked mined area.[2] A report released in late 2015 indicated one civilian was killed in Gyeonggi-do and one soldier injured in Gangwon-do in 2013.[3] In 2012, one civilian antipersonnel mine casualty was identified in the province of Gyeonggi,[4] as well as two military casualties on a military base on Baekryeong Island.[5]

In the first half of 2016, there were three new mine casualties in South Korea. Two Korean civilians and farm worker from Kazakhstan were injured by mines near the DMZ.[6]

The total number of mine/ERW casualties is unknown, but the Korea Research Institute for Mine Clearance stated in March 2009 that there were at least 500 civilian survivors.[7] In 2009, the media reported that there were at least 1,000 civilian casualties; the Korean Campaign to Ban Landmines (KCBL) estimated there were 2,000 to 3,000 military casualties.[8] The Monitor identified 86 mine casualties between 1999 and 2015 (11 killed, 75 injured). At least 25 of these casualties were military personnel, including one American soldier injured in 2001. Figures are likely incomplete as there is no comprehensive official data on mine casualties in South Korea.[9]

Victim Assistance

There have been at least 128 survivors identified in South Korea, though reasonable estimates indicate that the number is between 1,000 and 2,000, with both civilian and military survivors.[10]

No efforts were identified to assess the needs of mine/ERW victims in 2015. Following the mine victim survey conducted in 2011 by the Korean Peace Sharing Association (PSA) in Gangwon province, there were plans to conduct a similar survey inGyeonggi province, also bordering the DMZ, in 2013. However, these plans were stalled due to the unwillingness of provincial authorities to participate until the National Assembly passed a compensation law for mine victims.[11]

An English language report on the results from the 2011 survey was published in 2015. The survey conducted interviews related to a total of 228 landmine casualties (including 117 survivors along with information about 111 people killed) from the 1950s until 2011. The vast majority of casualties identified in this survey were male (83%). The survey highlighted the need for economic inclusion and livelihood support to mine survivors and their families.[12]

Using the results of the 2011 mine victim survey, the PSA/KCBL provided basic assistance to 64 identified mine victims in Gangwon-do province with funding from CitiBank.[13] In 2013 and 2014, PSA/KCBL continued to provide assistance to affected communities of the most impacted areas.[14] In addition, in 2013 and 2014, the organization focused on advocacy and awareness-raising on the issue of antipersonnel mines, as well as the difficulties faced by survivors.[15]

The 2011 mine victim survey also informed a program to provide medical assistance to civilian victims in Gangwon province, implemented by local authorities and the Korean Red Cross with funding from the Samsung Cooperate Citizenship Program. From January 2012 to March 2014, medical assistance, including rehabilitative surgery, prosthetics, and healthcare, was provided to 75 landmine and ERW survivors. Thirty-three survivors were provided with powered-assistive devices, including scooters and wheelchairs.[16]

Victim assistance coordination

South Korea has no victim assistance coordination mechanism; the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Family Affairs (MIHWAF) is the lead ministry responsible for persons with disabilities.[17]

KCBL/PSA focused its efforts on the formation of the Compensation Committee that will determine eligibility for compensation under the Special Act on Compensation for Civilian Landmine Victims (2014). According to plans, the committee will be institutionally housed at the Ministry for National Defense, although it will be chaired by a civilian, and civil society members may be permitted.[18]

The committee will determine if applicants are eligible for compensation and what amount of compensation would be received. The inclusion of language in the legislation relating to the need to “determine if the injured person was also partly responsible for his/her injuries, and, if so, determine how much he or she contributed to their own incident.”[19] This is likely to be inconsistent with the non-discrimination principles of victim assistance.

While South Korea has a national healthcare system, mine victims were frequently not eligible for assistance due to the fact that their disability was considered conflict-related and/or self-inflicted.[20] Victims were deemed ineligible for assistance if they had signed a written memo assuming all responsibility for death or injury when they entered or lived in the Civilian Control Zone near the DMZ. Thirty of the casualties identified in the 2011 survey of mine victims in Gangwon province had signed a memo prior to their injury.[21]

Soldiers injured on duty, including those injured by mines, receive free medical services and a monthly pension that depends on the degree of disability—estimated, for example, to be about US$1,000 for a partial limb amputation.[22] Prior to the passage of the Special Support Law for Civilian Landmine Victims, civilian mine survivors could apply for government compensation through the Ministry of National Defense Special Compensation Commission, but few claims were successful.[23] Through to the end of 2013, the government operated rehabilitation hospitals in six regions, plus a national rehabilitation research center to increase opportunities and access for persons with disabilities.[24] The national health system covered up to 80% of the costs for domestic prosthetics, however the PSA needs assessment notes that even 20% of the cost of a prosthetic was out of reach for many survivors who were living in poverty.[25]

The PSA needs assessment found that 88% of victims identified in Gangwon province (survivors and the family members of people killed by mines) did not seek compensation following the mine incident, in most cases because they were not aware that a state compensation program existed. Others did not seek compensation, either because they lacked money for legal assistance or because they feared reporting their incident to the government.[26]

In July 2014, the bill for the Special Support Law for Civilian Landmine Victims was reviewed by the plenary assembly of the parliament. The bill was passed by the National Assembly on 30 September 2014 and the law came into effect on 30 March 2015.[27]

The Special Support Law for Civilian Landmine Victims provides for compensation to landmine survivors and the families of the deceased and support for medical expenses. The bill also authorizes the government to provide funds to non-profit associations or organizations working to improve the livelihoods or well-being of landmine survivors or families of those people killed. It also covers research, public relations, and risk education.[28]

South Korean legislation prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment, education, air travel and other transportation, access to healthcare, or the provision of other state services. In 2015, the government effectively enforced the law, although many local government ordinances and regulations still directly discriminate against persons with disabilities.[29] In 2009, an act was adopted with the aim of preventing discrimination against persons with disabilities and providing remedies for those suffering from such discrimination.[30] Legislation, passed in 2014 and to be implemented in 2016, increased support for persons with disabilities and their families, and created a task-force of prosecutors and police specially trained to work with persons with disabilities.[31]

South Korea ratified the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on 11 December 2008.



[1] Elizabeth Shim, “Two South Korean soldiers injured in DMZ land mine explosion,” UPI, 4 August 2015. See also, ICBL-CMC, “South Korea: Mine Ban Country Profile,” 19 October 2015.

[2] Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor notes from meeting with Korean Peace Sharing Association/Korean Campaign to Ban Landmines (PSA/KCBL), 16 January 2015; and Jae Kook Cho, “Civilian Mine Victims in Gangewon Province, Korea,” PSA, Gangwon Provincial Office and Korean Red Cross, 2015, p. 132.

[3] Jae Kook Cho, “Civilian Mine Victims in Gangewon Province, Korea,” PSA, Gangwon Provincial Office and Korean Red Cross, 2015, p. 132.

[4] Emails from Kyungran Han, Secretary-General, PSA/KCBL, 8 and 11 March 2013.

[5] “Mine explosion at Baekryeong Island…Two Marines Injured,” MBC-TV, 31 October 2012.

[6] Jae Kook Cho, “Mine Issue in South Korea: Presentation at George Washington University,” 23 June 2016. Text obtained by email, 22 June 2016.

[7] Emails from Kim Ki-Ho, CEO, Korea Research Institute for Mine Clearance, 22 and 23 March 2009.

[8]In South Korea, landmines remain a threat,” Los Angeles Times, 23 December 2009; and ICBL, Landmine Monitor Report 1999: Toward a Mine-Free World (New York: Human Rights Watch, April 1999).

[9] Response to Monitor questionnaire by the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the UN in New York, 9 June 2009.

[10] It is not known if the 112 people who were injured by landmines recently identified through a casualty survey are still living, as many incidents occurred as many as 60 years ago. Emails from Lee Ji-sun, PSA, 18 April 2012; and from Nankyung Kim, PSA, 14 August 2014; Jae Kook Cho, “Civilian Mine Victims in Gangewon Province, Korea,” PSA, Gangwon Provincial Office and Korean Red Cross, 2015, p. 132; and ICBL, Landmine Monitor Report 1999: Toward a Mine-Free World (New York: Human Rights Watch, April 1999).

[11] Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor notes from meeting with PSA/KCBL, and CMC campaign member, Weapons Zero (WZ South Korea), 23 February 2013; and emails from Kyungran Han, PSA, 8 and 11 March 2013.

[12] Jae Kook Cho, “Civilian Mine Victims in Gangewon Province, Korea,” PSA, Gangwon Provincial Office and Korean Red Cross, 2015, pp. 49, 51, and 63.

[13] Email from Kyungran Han, PSA, 8 March 2012. The assistance consisted primarily of warm clothing and food.

[14] Ibid., 14 August 2014.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Jae Kook Cho, “Civilian Mine Victims in Gangewon Province, Korea,” PSA, Gangwon Provincial Office and Korean Red Cross, 2015, pp. 92–95.

[17] MIHWAF, “Policy for Persons with Disabilities,” undated.

[18] Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor report from field mission to South Korea, 16 January 2015.

[19] Translation of “Special Act on Compensation for Civilian Mine Victims,” in Jae Kook Cho, “Civilian Mine Victims in Gangewon Province, Korea,” PSA, Gangwon Provincial Office and Korean Red Cross, 2015.

[20] Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor report from field mission to South Korea, 25 March 2012.

[21] Jae Kook Cho, “Civilian Mine Victims in Gangewon Province, Korea,” PSA, Gangwon Provincial Office and Korean Red Cross, 2015, p. 62.

[22] Email from Kim Ki-Ho, Korea Research Institute for Mine Clearance, 22 March 2009.

[23]In South Korea, landmines remain a threat,” Los Angeles Times, 23 December 2009.

[24] United States (US) Department of State, “2015 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Republic of Korea,” Washington, DC,13 April 2016.

[25] Jae Kook Cho, “Civilian Mine Victims in Gangewon Province, Korea,” PSA, Gangwon Provincial Office and Korean Red Cross, 2015, p. 64.

[26] Email from Lee Ji-Sun, PSA, 18 April 2012.

[27] Emails from Jae Kook Cho, founder of KCBL, 4 July 2014; and from Nankyung Kim, PSA, 14 August 2014; and Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor notes from meeting with PSA/KCBL, 16 January 2015.

[28] Translation of “Special Act on Compensation for Civilian Mine Victims,” in Jae Kook Cho, “Civilian Mine Victims in Gangewon Province, Korea,” PSA, Gangwon Provincial Office and Korean Red Cross, 2015.

[29] US Department of State, “2015 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Republic of Korea,” Washington, DC, 13 April 2016.

[30] MIHWAF, “Policy for Persons with Disabilities,” undated.

[31] US Department of State, “2015 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Republic of Korea,” Washington, DC, 13 April 2016.