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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) per 100 people in South Korea is 1.11

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

In South Korea, the number of handguns in civilian possession is reported to be 1,7582

Number of Privately Owned Firearms - World Ranking

In a 2007 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 2007 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 300,0001

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

Total Number of Gun Deaths

ChartIn South Korea, annual deaths resulting from firearms total

2012: 238
2002: 279

Rate of All Gun Deaths per 100,000 People

ChartIn South Korea, the annual rate of all gun deaths per 100,000 population is

2012: 0.08
2002: 0.069

Homicides (any method)

ChartIn South Korea, annual homicides by any means total

2011: 42710
2010: 1,25111
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: 95512
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

2011: 0.910
2010: 2.611
2009: 2.9
2008: 2.311 13
2007: 2.3
2006: 2.3
2005: 2.3
2004: 2.311
2003: 2.1
2002: 2.1
2001: 2.3
2000: 2.0212
1999: 2.12
1998: 2.10
1997: 2.211
1996: 2.0
1995: 1.9
1994: 1.6214

Gun Homicides

ChartIn South Korea, annual firearm homicides total

2012: 38
2011: 910
2006: 1411

Rate of Gun Homicide per 100,000 People

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

2012: 0.08
2011: 0.024
2006: 0.011
1994: 0.0415

Proportion of Homicides Committed With a Gun

ChartIn South Korea, the percentage of homicides committed with a firearm is reported to be

2011: 2%10
2006: 1.7%11

Suicides (any method)

In South Korea, annual suicides by any means total

1997: 6,0249

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: 12.639
1994: 9.4816

Gun Suicides

ChartIn South Korea, annual firearm suicides total

2012: 148
2002: 179

Rate of Gun Suicide per 100,000 People

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

2012: 0.08
2002: 0.049
1994: 0.0217

Unintentional Gun Deaths

ChartIn South Korea, annual unintentional shooting deaths total

2012: 38
2002: 79

Rate of Unintentional Gun Death per 100,000 People

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

2012: 0.014
2002: 0.019
1994: 0.0518

Gun Deaths from Undetermined Cause

ChartIn South Korea, annual shooting deaths in which the cause remains undecided total

2012: 38
2002: 39

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

2012: 0.014
2002: 0.019
1994: 0.0219

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 licence20 21 22

Small Arms Manufacture - World Ranking

In a classification of the world's small, medium and major firearm manufacturers, South Korea was ranked 'medium'23

TransfersGun Trade and Trafficking

Firearm Exports

In South Korea, firearm and ammunition exports are limited by transfer control law24 25 26 22 27

Small Arms Exports (US$) - Customs

The annual value of small arms and ammunition exports from South Korea is reported by Customs to be US$144,391,39028 (2011)29 30 31 32 33

Small Arms Exports - World Ranking

In a comparison of the world's major/mid-level/minor/unknown small arms exporters, South Korea was categorized as 'major'34 35 36 37 33 38

Firearm Imports

In South Korea, firearm and ammunition imports are limited by transfer control law24 25 26 22 27

Small Arms Imports (US$) - Customs

The annual value of small arms and ammunition imports to South Korea is reported by Customs to be US$150,175,22528 (2011)39 40 41 42 43

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 law44 45 22 46

End User Certificates

Customs regulations in South Korea include24 certification of the intended end user of any small arms or ammunition transfer, and/or a written declaration of its intended end use

Transparency of Small Arms Transfers

ChartIn its annual Small Arms Trade Transparency Barometer, the Small Arms Survey compares public reporting among major arms exporting nations on a scale from strong to weak (25 to zero). In recent years, South Korea scored

2016: 9.7547
2014: 10.0048
2013: 9.7549
2012: 9.7550
2011: 10.2551
2010: 10.0052
2009: 9.7553
2008: 9.7554
2007: 10.0055
2006: 9.7556
2005: 9.7557
2004: 9.2558

MeasuresGun Regulation

Firearm Regulation - Guiding Policy

The regulation of guns in South Korea is categorised as restrictive59

Firearm Law

Guiding gun control legislation in South Korea includes the Act on the Control of Firearms of 1961 and the Act on Defense Acquisition of 200622 60

Firearm Regulation Authority

Guns in South Korea are regulated by the National Police22 61

Right to Possess Firearms

In South Korea, the right to private gun ownership is not guaranteed by law62 63

Restricted Firearms and Ammunition

In South Korea, civilians are not allowed to possess military weapons, such as revolvers, pistols, automatic and semi-automatic rifles and machine guns with no exceptions64

Regulation of Automatic Weapons

In South Korea, private possession of fully automatic weapons is prohibited64

Regulation of Semiautomatic Assault Weapons

In South Korea, private possession of semi-automatic assault weapons is prohibited in all but exceptional circumstances64

Regulation of Handguns

In South Korea, private possession of handguns (pistols and revolvers) is prohibited64

Law Regulates Long Guns

In South Korea, civilian possession of rifles and shotguns is regulated by law64

Gun Ownership and Possession

In South Korea, only licensed gun owners61 22 64 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 establish a genuine reason to possess a firearm, for example hunting and target shooting64 61

Minimum Age for Firearm Possession

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

Gun Owner Background Checks

An applicant for a firearm licence in South Korea must pass a background check which considers criminal and mental health61 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 required60 for a firearm licence

Gun Owner Licensing Period

In South Korea, gun owners must re-apply and re-qualify for their firearm licence every five years61

Firearm Registration

Civilian Gun Registration

In South Korea, the law requires65 66 that a record of the acquisition, possession and transfer of each privately held firearm be retained in an official register

Gun Manufacturer Record Keeping

In South Korea, licensed gun makers are required20 66 to keep a record of each firearm produced, for inspection by a regulating authority

State-Owned Firearm Records

In South Korea, State agencies are required66 67 68 to maintain records of the storage and movement of all firearms and ammunition under their control

Gun Sales and Transfers

Regulation of Dealer Gun Sales

In South Korea, dealing in firearms by way of business without a valid gun dealer’s licence is unlawful61

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 Storage Regulations - Government

Government regulations in South Korea include67 69 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of firearms and ammunition by state entities

Firearm and Ammunition Transport Regulations

Regulations in South Korea include26 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 law66 70 65 71

Firearm Tracing

In South Korea, state authorities carry out72 65 recognised arms tracing and tracking procedures

Carrying Guns

Law Regulates Firearms in Public

In South Korea, carrying a gun in a public place is regulated by law61

Carrying Guns Openly in Public

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

Penalty for Illicit Firearm Possession

In South Korea, the maximum penalty for unlawful possession of a firearm73 is 10 years in prison or a fine74

Collection, Amnesty and Destruction Programmes

Authorities in South Korea are known to have60 implemented voluntary firearm surrender schemes, and/or weapon seizure programmes in order to reduce the number of illicit firearms in circulation

Destruction and Disposal Policy

In South Korea, it is state policy67 to destroy surplus, collected and seized firearms rather than return them to the secondary arms market

MeasuresInternational Controls

Regional Agreements

United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice

The UNCCPCJ, a subsidiary body of the Economic and Social Council mandated to promote action to prevent national and transnational crime, lists75 South Korea as an elected member

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 200676 by South Korea.

United Nations Arms Trade Treaty

The United Nations Arms Trade Treaty has been signed and ratified77 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 ratified78 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 Aspects79

UNPoA Implementation Monitor Score

In its UN small arms Programme of Action Implementation Monitor (PoAIM Phase 1), the Small Arms Survey scored South Korea against its commitments to the PoA, then ranked it at No. 1180 81 82 83 among 159 Member States

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 reports84 46 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 designated85 46

UNPoA National Coordinating Body

In South Korea, a National Coordinating Body to deal with issues relating to the UNPoA has been designated46 86

UNPoA International Assistance – Donor

Funds for UNPoA implementation have not been donated46 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 declared87 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 199188

Wassenaar Arrangement

The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls and Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies lists89 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


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