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South Korea — Gun Facts, Figures and the Law

StockpilesGun Numbers

Civilian Guns

Number of Privately Owned Firearms

ChartThe estimated total number of guns (both licit and illicit) held by civilians in South Korea is

2017: 79,0001
2007: 510,0002

Rate of Civilian Firearm Possession per 100 Population

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

2017: 0.201
2007: 1.12

Number of Privately Owned Rifles

In South Korea, the number of rifles in civilian possession is reported to be 35,6303

Number of Privately Owned Handguns

In South Korea, the number of handguns in civilian possession is reported to be 1,7583

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. 784

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. 1492

Number of Licensed Firearm Owners

ChartThe number of licensed gun owners in South Korea is reported to be

2016: 138,7515
2015: 143,643
2014: 154,974
2013: 173,246
2012: 187,073
2011: 192,985
2010: 219,979
2009: 242,403
2008: 260,310
2007: 268,216

Rate of Licensed Firearm Owners per 100 Population

ChartThe rate of licensed firearm owners per 100 people in South Korea is

2016: 0.276
2015: 0.28
2014: 0.30
2013: 0.34
2012: 0.37
2011: 0.38
2010: 0.44
2009: 0.49
2008: 0.53
2007: 0.55

Number of Registered Firearms

ChartThe number of registered guns in South Korea is reported to be

2017: 39,5301
2005: 300,0002

Rate of Registered Firearms per 100 Population

ChartThe rate of registered guns per 100 people in South Korea is

2017: 0.076
2005: 0.62

Estimated Number of Unregistered and Illicit Firearms

Unregistered and unlawfully held guns cannot be counted,7 but in South Korea there are estimated to be

2017: 39,4701

Estimated Rate of Unregistered and Illicit Firearms per 100 Population

Unregistered and unlawfully held guns cannot be counted,7 but in South Korea the rate of such firearms per 100 people is estimated to be

2017: 0.086

Government Guns

Number of Military Firearms

The defence forces of South Korea are reported to have 2,688,0208 firearms

Number of Law Enforcement Firearms

Police in South Korea are reported to have 115,0009 firearms

ImpactsDeath and Injury

Total Number of Gun Deaths

ChartIn South Korea, annual deaths resulting from firearms total

2013: 3110
2012: 2311
2011: 34
2010: 25
2002: 2712

Rate of All Gun Deaths per 100,000 People

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

2013: 0.0610
2012: 0.05
2011: 0.07
2010: 0.05
2002: 0.0612

Total Number of Male Gun Deaths

ChartIn South Korea, annual male deaths resulting from firearms total

2013: 2810
2012: 23
2011: 30
2010: 24

Total Number of Female Gun Deaths

ChartIn South Korea, annual female deaths resulting from firearms total

2013: 310
2012: 0
2011: 4
2010: 1

Homicides (any method)

ChartIn South Korea, annual homicides by any means total

2014: 37213
2013: 56410
2012: 542
2011: 552
2010: 624
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: 95514
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

2014: 0.7413
2013: 0.0610
2012: 0.05
2011: 0.07
2010: 0.05
2009: 2.9
2008: 2.315 16
2007: 2.3
2006: 2.3
2005: 2.3
2004: 2.315
2003: 2.1
2002: 2.1
2001: 2.3
2000: 2.0214
1999: 2.12
1998: 2.10
1997: 2.215
1996: 2.0
1995: 1.9
1994: 1.6217

Male Homicide Victims (any method)

ChartIn South Korea, annual male homicides by any means total

2014: 18018
2013: 30010
2012: 297
2011: 310
2010: 352

Female Homicide Victims (any method)

ChartIn South Korea, annual female homicides by any means total

2014: 19218
2013: 26410
2012: 245
2011: 242
2010: 272

Gun Homicides

ChartIn South Korea, annual firearm homicides total

2013: 810
2012: 311
2011: 17
2010: 4
2006: 1415

Rate of Gun Homicide per 100,000 People

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

2013: 0.0210
2012: 0.01
2011: 0.03
2010: 0.01
2006: 0.015
1994: 0.0419

Proportion of Homicides Committed With a Gun

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

2011: 2%20
2006: 1.7%15

Male Gun Homicide Victims

ChartIn South Korea, annual male firearm homicides total

2013: 710
2012: 3
2011: 14
2010: 3

Female Gun Homicide Victims

ChartIn South Korea, annual female firearm homicides total

2013: 110
2012: 0
2011: 3
2010: 1

Suicides (any method)

ChartIn South Korea, annual suicides by any means total

2013: 14,42710
2012: 14,160
2011: 15,906
2010: 15,566
1997: 6,02412

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

2013: 28.8210
2012: 28.42
2011: 32.10
2010: 31.60
1997: 12.6312
1994: 9.4821

Male Suicide Victims (any method)

ChartIn South Korea, annual male suicides by any means total

2013: 10,06010
2012: 9,622
2011: 10,866
2010: 10,329

Female Suicide Victims (any method)

ChartIn South Korea, annual female suicides by any means total

2013: 4,36710
2012: 4,538
2011: 5,040
2010: 5,237

Gun Suicides

ChartIn South Korea, annual firearm suicides total

2013: 1310
2012: 1411
2011: 13
2010: 19
2002: 1712

Rate of Gun Suicide per 100,000 People

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

2013: 0.0310
2012: 0.03
2011: 0.03
2010: 0.04
2002: 0.0412
1994: 0.0222

Male Gun Suicide Victims

ChartIn South Korea, annual male firearm suicides total

2013: 1210
2012: 14
2011: 12
2010: 19

Female Gun Suicide Victims

ChartIn South Korea, annual female firearm suicides total

2013: 110
2012: 0
2011: 1
2010: 0

Unintentional Gun Deaths

ChartIn South Korea, annual unintentional shooting deaths total

2013: 610
2012: 311
2011: 4
2010: 1
2002: 712

Rate of Unintentional Gun Death per 100,000 People

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

2013: 0.0110
2012: 0.01
2011: 0.01
2010: 0
2002: 0.0112
1994: 0.0523

Unintentional Male Gun Deaths

ChartIn South Korea, annual unintentional male shooting deaths total

2013: 510
2012: 3
2011: 4
2010: 1

Unintentional Female Gun Deaths

ChartIn South Korea, annual unintentional female shooting deaths total

2013: 110
2012: 0
2011: 0
2010: 0

Gun Deaths from Undetermined Cause

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

2013: 410
2012: 311
2011: 0
2010: 1
2002: 312

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: 0.016
2002: 0.0112
1994: 0.0224

Male Gun Deaths from Undetermined Cause

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

2013: 410
2012: 3
2011: 0
2010: 1

Female Gun Deaths from Undetermined Cause

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

2013: 010
2012: 0
2011: 0
2010: 0

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 licence25 26 27

Small Arms Manufacture - World Ranking

In a classification of the world's small, medium and major firearm manufacturers, South Korea was ranked 'medium'28

TransfersGun Trade and Trafficking

Firearm Exports

In South Korea, firearm and ammunition exports are limited by transfer control law29 30 31 27 32

Small Arms Exports (US$) - Customs

ChartThe annual value of small arms and ammunition exports from South Korea is reported by Customs to be US$

2016: 811,246,47033
2015: 640,599,914
2014: 612,980,316
2013: 583,841,464
2012: 516,566,91433 34 35
2011: 144,391,39036
2010: 138,000,00037
2001: 37,000,00034 38 39

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'40 41 42 43 39 44

Firearm Imports

In South Korea, firearm and ammunition imports are limited by transfer control law29 30 31 27 32

Small Arms Imports (US$) - Customs

ChartThe annual value of small arms and ammunition imports to South Korea is reported by Customs to be US$

2016: 114,098,23333
2015: 98,474,318
2014: 115,462,095
2013: 164,505,770
2012: 17,858,86733 45 46 47
2011: 150,175,22536 48
2010: 130,000,00049
2001: 130,000,00045

Smuggling Guns and Ammunition

Reports suggest that the level of firearm and ammunition smuggling in South Korea is moderate3

Regulation of Arms Brokers

In South Korea, the activities of arms brokers and transfer intermediaries are specifically regulated by law50 51 27 52

End User Certificates

Customs regulations in South Korea include29 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

2018: 11.7553
2016: 9.7554
2014: 10.0055
2013: 9.7556
2012: 9.7557
2011: 10.2558
2010: 10.0059
2009: 9.7560
2008: 9.7561
2007: 10.0062
2006: 9.7563
2005: 9.7564
2004: 9.2565

MeasuresGun Regulation

Firearm Regulation - Guiding Policy

The regulation of guns in South Korea is categorised as restrictive66

Firearm Law

Guiding gun control legislation in South Korea includes the Act on the Control of Firearms of 196167 68 and the Act on Defense Acquisition of 200627 69

Firearm Regulation Authority

Guns in South Korea are regulated by the National Police27 70

Right to Possess Firearms

In South Korea, the right to private gun ownership is not guaranteed by law71 72

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 exceptions73

Regulation of Automatic Weapons

In South Korea, private possession of fully automatic weapons is prohibited73

Regulation of Semiautomatic Assault Weapons

In South Korea, private possession of semi-automatic assault weapons is prohibited in all but exceptional circumstances73

Regulation of Handguns

In South Korea, private possession of handguns (pistols and revolvers) is prohibited73

Law Regulates Long Guns

In South Korea, civilian possession of rifles and shotguns is regulated by law73

Gun Ownership and Possession

In South Korea, only licensed gun owners70 27 73 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, sport, or pest control74 73 70

Minimum Age for Firearm Possession

The minimum age for gun ownership in South Korea is 20 years3

Gun Owner Background Checks

An applicant for a firearm licence in South Korea must pass a background check which considers criminal and mental health70 records

Reference Required for Firearm Licence

In South Korea, third party character references for each gun licence applicant are not required3

Domestic Violence and Firearms

Where a past history, or apprehended likelihood of family violence exists, the law in South Korea does not stipulate3 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 required75 69 for a firearm licence

Gun Owner Licensing Period

In South Korea, gun owners must re-apply and re-qualify for their firearm licence every three years76 70

Firearm Registration

Civilian Gun Registration

In South Korea, the law requires77 78 79 that a record of the acquisition, possession and transfer of each privately held firearm be retained in an official register

Gun Dealer Record Keeping

In South Korea, licensed firearm dealers are required80 to keep a record of each firearm or ammunition purchase, sale or transfer on behalf of a regulating authority

Gun Manufacturer Record Keeping

In South Korea, licensed gun makers are required80 25 79 to keep a record of each firearm produced, for inspection by a regulating authority

State-Owned Firearm Records

In South Korea, State agencies are required79 81 82 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 unlawful70

Limit on Gun Dealer Sales

In South Korea, the number and type of firearms which can be sold by a licensed gun dealer to a single gun owner is limited to 400 cartridges (5,000 cartridges in the case of blank cartridges in staple guns for construction) per day83

Storage and Transport of Guns and Ammunition

Firearm and Ammunition Storage Regulations - Private

Firearm regulations in South Korea include84 3 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of private firearms and ammunition by licensed gun owners

Firearm and Ammunition Storage Regulations - Dealer

Firearm regulations in South Korea include85 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of firearms and ammunition by licensed arms dealers

Firearm and Ammunition Storage Regulations - Government

Government regulations in South Korea include81 86 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of firearms and ammunition by state entities

Firearm and Ammunition Transport Regulations

Regulations in South Korea include87 31 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 law79 88 78 89

Firearm Tracing

In South Korea, state authorities carry out90 78 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 law70

Carrying Guns Openly in Public

In South Korea, carrying a firearm in plain view in a public place is prohibited87 3

Penalty for Illicit Firearm Possession

In South Korea, the maximum penalty for unlawful possession of a firearm91 is 10 years in prison or a fine92

Collection, Amnesty and Destruction Programmes

Authorities in South Korea are known to have69 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 policy81 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, lists93 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 200694 by South Korea.

Arms Trade Treaty

The Arms Trade Treaty has been signed and ratified95 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 ratified96 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 Aspects97

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. 1198 99 100 101 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 reports102 52 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 designated103 52

UNPoA National Coordinating Body

In South Korea, a National Coordinating Body to deal with issues relating to the UNPoA has been designated52 104

UNPoA International Assistance – Donor

Funds for UNPoA implementation have not been donated52 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 declared105 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 1991106

Wassenaar Arrangement

The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls and Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies lists107 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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