Another landmine accident, this one involving an M-14 buried by South Korea, occurred on Sunday on the southern side of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), wounding a South Korean noncommissioned officer.
The officer was conducting a search operation, the South Korea Ministry of National Defense revealed Wednesday.
The accident occurred as military tension between South and North Korea was at its highest, prompted by a mine explosion that seriously injured two South Koreans earlier this month. This time, however, the officer was not wounded seriously, as he was wearing overshoes that minimized the harm done.
Experts say that M-14 landmines, which weigh 98 grams and can move due to water flow and flooding, are hurting not only soldiers but civilians.
“The South Korean army has not figured out the locations of buried landmines in the DMZ and Civilian Control Line, causing difficulty in conducting a detailed search on the southern part of the DMZ and the northern part of the Civilian Control Line, which aims to find the trace and signal of North Korea’s attack,” reads a statement released by Kim Ki-ho, president of the Green Peace Coalition on Thursday.
Kim criticized the lack of a plan to remove landmines both at the DMZ and the inner Civilian Control Line area. He said that the landmines are not even helpful for the South Korean military.
“The metal anti-human landmines are not operating normally anymore, their validity, which is usually 12 years, having expired,” Kim told NK News.
Under an article in South Korean law, passed in May 2001, landmines are not considered “anti-human” if the iron inside them amounts to less than 8 grams and there is not a way to detect them.
Kim said the iron in the M-14 is lighter than 8 grams, which is impossible to detect and the South Korean government therefore isn’t obliged to remove them.
But the harm they do to civilians can be considerable, and little compensation has been provided for accidents.
According to the Peace Sharing Association, which supports civilian victims of landmines, landmine accidents have occurred in South Korea every year since the Korean War ended in 1953.
“Most of the landmines were buried during the Korean War, mainly by U.S. forces, and after the war the South Korean army also buried them in 36 regions of the country, excluding the border area. They were buried to protect the region against North Korean agents during international competitions like the Olympics (in 1988) and the Asian Games, and U.S. troops didn’t remove them after moving their bases,” Peace Sharing Association secretary general Kim Nan-kyung told NK News.
Both Kim Ki-ho and Kim Nan-kyung pointed out that legal compensation for the civilian victims is based on prices at the time of the incidents, resulting in poor financial compensation.
“72.8 percent of landmine accidents happened before 1970s. One of the victims, wounded in 1957 when he was a 31-year-old father with a family, is expected to receive money amounting to only 673,000 won (approximately $560),” Kim Nan-kyung told NK News. Had the accident taken place in 2012, he would have received 340 million won.
Kim Ki-ho said that while government compensation for mine victims is the same, public donations are very different if the victim was harmed by a North Korean landmine, rather than one from South Korea or the U.S.
“For the soldiers who were disabled by South Korean or U.S. landmines, they receive 1,100,000 won ($1,000) per month, after receiving 100 million won ($84,352), while the soldiers hurt by North Korean ones have received more than 500 million won ($421,762),” he said of the approximate amount of donations received. “This is causing comparative deprivation for the victims.”
Victims of South Korean or U.S. landmines receive few donations because they receive little public attention; these victims have sometimes said, “I should have stepped on a North Korean mine,” Kim said.
The Peace Sharing Association said the MND is attempting to revise the law, and provide compensation of 20 million won to persons injured by mines prior to the 1970s.
The South Korean government has provided 8.8 billion won to international victims of mine accidents.
Landmine warning: 1. by Globalism Pictures on 2005-04-26 13:50:27
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