Korea, Republic of

Mine Action

Last updated: 19 November 2018


Treaty status

Mine Ban Treaty

Not a party

Mine action management

National mine action management actors


Mine action strategic plan


Operators in 2017

South Korean army

Extent of contamination as of end 2017


Not known

Cluster munition remnants


Land release in 2017


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



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



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.