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South Korea — Gun Facts, Figures and the Law

StockpilesGun Numbers

Civilian Guns

Number of Privately Owned Firearms

The estimated total number of guns (both licit and illicit) held by civilians in South Korea is 510,0001

Rate of Civilian Firearm Possession per 100 Population

The estimated rate of private gun ownership (both licit and illicit) in South Korea is 1.11 firearms per 100 people

Number of Privately Owned Rifles

In South Korea, the number of rifles in civilian possession is reported to be 35,6302

Number of Privately Owned Handguns

There are reportedly 1,7582 handguns in civilian possession in South Korea

Number of Privately Owned Firearms - World Ranking

In a comparison of the number of privately owned guns in 178 countries, South Korea ranked at No. 783

Rate of Privately Owned Firearms per 100 Population - World Ranking

In a comparison of the rate of private gun ownership in 178 countries, South Korea ranked at No. 1491

Number of Registered Firearms

The number of registered guns in South Korea is reported to be 300,0003

Rate of Registered Firearms per 100 Population

The rate of registered guns per 100 people in South Korea is 0.624

Government Guns

Number of Military Firearms

The defence forces of South Korea are reported to have 4,700,0005 6 firearms

Number of Law Enforcement Firearms

Police in South Korea are reported to have 129,0317 firearms

ImpactsDeath and Injury

Homicides (any method)

ChartIn South Korea, annual homicides by any means total

2010: 1,2518
2009: 1,374
2008: 1,109
2007: 1,104
2006: 1,074
2005: 1,061
2004: 1,084
2003: 998
2002: 957
2001: 1,051
2000: 9559
1999: 993
1998: 975

Rate of Homicide per 100,000 People (any method)

ChartIn South Korea, the annual rate of homicide by any means per 100,000 population is

2010: 2.68
2009: 2.9
2008: 2.38 10
2007: 2.3
2006: 2.3
2005: 2.3
2004: 2.38
2003: 2.1
2002: 2.1
2001: 2.3
2000: 2.029
1999: 2.12
1998: 2.10
1997: 2.28
1996: 2.0
1995: 1.9
1994: 1.6211

Gun Homicides

In South Korea, annual firearm homicides total 2006: 148

Rate of Gun Homicide per 100,000 People

ChartIn South Korea, the annual rate of firearm homicide per 100,000 population is

2006: 0.08
1994: 0.0412

Suicides (any method)

In South Korea, annual suicides by any means total 1997: 6,02413

Rate of Suicide per 100,000 People (any method)

ChartIn South Korea, the annual rate of suicide by any means per 100,000 population is

1997: 12.6313
1994: 9.4814

Gun Suicides

In South Korea, annual firearm suicides total 2002: 1713

Rate of Gun Suicide per 100,000 People

ChartIn South Korea, the annual rate of firearm suicide per 100,000 population is

2002: 0.0413
1994: 0.0215

Unintentional Gun Deaths

In South Korea, annual unintentional shooting deaths total 2002: 713

Rate of Unintentional Gun Death per 100,000 People

ChartIn South Korea, the annual rate of unintentional shooting death per 100,000 population is

2002: 0.0113
1994: 0.0516

Gun Deaths from Undetermined Cause

In South Korea, annual shooting deaths in which the cause remains undecided total 2002: 313

Rate of Gun Death from Undetermined Cause per 100,000 People

ChartIn South Korea, the annual rate of unknown-cause shooting deaths per 100,000 population is

2002: 0.0113
1994: 0.0217

ProductionGun Industry

Regulation of Firearm Makers

In South Korea, the manufacture of small arms, ammunition and/or their components is permitted only if the maker holds a valid licence2

Small Arms Manufacture - World Ranking

In a classification of the world's small, medium and major firearm manufacturers, South Korea is ranked 'medium'18

TransfersGun Trade and Trafficking

Regulation of Firearm Exports

In South Korea, firearm and ammunition exports are limited by transfer control law19

Small Arms Exports (US$) - Customs

The annual value of small arms and ammunition exports from South Korea is reported by Customs to be US$144,391,39020 (2011)21 22

Small Arms Exports - World Ranking

In a comparison of the world's major/mid-level/minor/unknown small arms exporters, South Korea is categorized as 'mid-level'23 22

Regulation of Firearm Imports

In South Korea, firearm and ammunition imports are limited by transfer control law19

Small Arms Imports (US$) - Customs

The annual value of small arms and ammunition imports to South Korea is reported by Customs to be US$150,175,22520 (2011)

Smuggling Guns and Ammunition

Reports suggest that the level of firearm and ammunition smuggling in South Korea is moderate2

Regulation of Arms Brokers

In South Korea, the activities of arms brokers and transfer intermediaries are specifically regulated by law24

Transparency of Small Arms Transfers

In the most recent survey of state transparency in declaring firearm and ammunition exports among major small arms exporting nations, South Korea was ranked at No. 2925

MeasuresGun Regulation

Firearm Regulation - Guiding Policy

The regulation of guns in South Korea is categorised as restrictive26

Firearm Regulation Authority

Guns in South Korea are regulated by the National Police under the Ministry of Home Affairs2

Restricted Firearms and Ammunition

Regulation of Handguns

In South Korea, private possession of handguns (pistols and revolvers) is permitted under licence, except for collection2

Gun Ownership and Possession

In South Korea, only licensed gun owners2 may lawfully acquire, possess or transfer a firearm or ammunition

Genuine Reason Required for Firearm Possession

Applicants for a gun owner’s licence in South Korea are required to prove genuine reason to possess a firearm, for example, hunting, target shooting, personal protection, security2

Minimum Age for Firearm Possession

The minimum age for gun ownership in South Korea is 20 years2

Gun Licence Background Checks

An applicant for a firearm licence in South Korea must pass a background check which considers criminal and mental2 records

Reference Required for Firearm Licence

In South Korea, third party character references for each gun licence applicant are not required2

Domestic Violence and Firearms

Where a past history, or apprehended likelihood of family violence exists, the law in South Korea does not stipulate2 that a gun licence should be denied or revoked

Firearm Safety Training

In South Korea, an understanding of firearm safety and the law, tested in a theoretical and/or practical training course is not required2 for a firearm licence

Firearm Registration

Civilian Gun Registration

In South Korea, the law requires27 2 that a record of the acquisition, possession and transfer of each privately held firearm be retained in an official register

State-Owned Firearm Records

In South Korea, State agencies are required28 to maintain records of the storage and movement of all firearms and ammunition under their control

Storage and Transport of Guns and Ammunition

Firearm and Ammunition Storage Regulations - Private

Firearm regulations in South Korea include2 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of private firearms and ammunition by licensed gun owners

Firearm and Ammunition Transport Regulations

Regulations in South Korea include2 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of firearms and ammunition while in transit

Marking and Tracing Guns and Ammunition

Firearm Marking

In South Korea, a unique identifying mark on each firearm is required by law27 29

Firearm Tracing

In South Korea, state authorities carry out27 recognised arms tracing and tracking procedures

Carrying Guns

Carrying Guns Openly in Public

In South Korea, carrying a firearm in plain view in a public place is prohibited2

MeasuresInternational Controls

Regional Agreements

United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice

At the resumption of the most recent session of the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (UNCCPCJ), a subsidiary body of the Economic and Social Council mandated to promote action to prevent national and transnational crime, South Korea was listed as an elected member for a three-year term of office30

Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development

The Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development, a diplomatic initiative aimed at addressing the interrelations between armed violence and development, was signed in 200631 by South Korea.

United Nations Arms Trade Treaty

The United Nations Arms Trade Treaty has been signed, but not yet ratified32 by South Korea

United Nations Firearms Protocol

The United Nations Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition has been signed, but not yet ratified33 by South Korea

United Nations Small Arms Programme of Action UNPoA

UNPoA Commitment

On 21 July 2001, South Korea committed to a consensus decision of the United Nations to adopt, support and implement the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects34

UNPoA National Reporting

Under the terms of its 2001 commitment to the United Nations small arms Programme of Action, South Korea has submitted one or more national reports35 24 on its implementation of the UNPoA

UNPoA National Point of Contact

In South Korea, a National Point of Contact to deal with issues relating to the UNPoA has been designated36 24

UNPoA International Assistance – Donor

Funds for UNPoA implementation have not been donated24 by South Korea to other UN Member States

United Nations Small Arms Register

According to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, South Korea has declared37 its small arms exports in one or more annual National Reports on Arms Exports.

United Nations Membership

In the UN List of Member States, South Korea has been a Member State of the United Nations since 199138

Wassenaar Arrangement

The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls and Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies lists39 South Korea as a Participating State

BackgroundCountry Profile

Conflict Profile

For a profile of conflict in South Korea, select the Link icon to open an external web page from the UCDP Conflict Encyclopedia at Uppsala University

Global Peace Index

To see where South Korea ranks, select the Link icon to open an external web page at the Global Peace Index


Short References

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Krug, E G, K E Powell and L L Dahlberg.1998.‘Firearm-Related Deaths in the United States and 35 Other High- and Upper-Middle-Income Countries.’ International Journal of Epidemiology.Atlanta:National Centre for Injury Prevention & Control, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention / CDC,16 April. (Q1299)Full Citation

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Krug, E G, K E Powell and L L Dahlberg.1998.‘Firearm-Related Deaths in the United States and 35 Other High- and Upper-Middle-Income Countries.’ International Journal of Epidemiology.Atlanta:National Centre for Injury Prevention & Control, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention / CDC,16 April. (Q1300)Full Citation

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IANSA.2006.‘Reviewing Action on Small Arms 2006: Assessing the first five years of the UN Programme of Action.’ Biting the Bullet 'Red Book' 2006.New York:International Action Network on Small Arms and the Biting the Bullet project,26 June. (Q82)Full Citation

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Marsh, Nicholas.2013.‘Database of Authorised Transfers of Small Arms and Light Weapons.’ NISAT Small Arms Trade Database.Oslo:Norwegian Initiative on Small Arms Transfers,14 February. (Q16)Full Citation

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