A Kazakhstani worker was wounded on Monday when he stepped on a landmine inside the civilian control line (CCL) between South and North Korea in Yanggu, Gangwon Province.
This mine is not believed to have been North Korean, but a U.S.-planted one dating back to the years not long after the Korean War.
The 54-year-old victim was working at a ginseng farm where the landmine was likely exposed due to recent rainfall.
Police authorities have speculated that it was an M14 anti-personnel landmine, and Kim Ki-ho, president of Landmine Korea, said that the worker’s wounds indicate that this is likely correct.
“The wounded part is the four toes on his right foot, but because of the chemical material’s impact, the damaged part seems to expand,” the security department at the local police office told NK News.
Weighing as little as 98 grams, an M14 landmine can easily be moved by water flow and flooding during the summer, making it difficult to assume the buried locations. Since it is made of plastic and is including only 8 grams of iron, it is difficult to find with metal detectors.
“Among 1.2 million landmines buried in South Korea, around 390,000 of them are M14,” Kim told NK News.
The U.S. began producing it in 1955.
“They were buried … after the Korean war by the South Korean forces,” said Kim.
Kim has argued that using M14 is violation of Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) that South Korea signed in 2001. The CCW prohibits undetectable landmines like the M14.
Last August, two South Korean soldiers were seriously injured by a North Korean wooden box landmine. North Korea denied responsibility for the incident, but a tense inter-Korean standoff resulted before ultimately being diffused by an agreement later that month.
Another, less publicized landmine incident took place during a military operation that month in Yeoncheon, Gyeonggi Province, in which a South Korean soldier stepped on a mine, another M14.
Even though the U.S. has announced it will no longer use anti-personnel landmines and will destroy those it has planted elsewhere, it has stated that Korean Peninsula is an exception, citing the threat of North Korean invasion.
While there are no official statistics about the total number of civilian victims, 44 people have died due to landmines in Yanggu alone since 1966. M14s are to blame in 27 cases, Kim said.
According to Peace Sharing Together, a civil organization dedicated to landmine removal, there have been more than 1,000 victims nationwide.
While it is possible to file a lawsuit with the South Korean government seeking compensation for damages, regardless of the victim’s nationality, compensation was rarely provided to victims prior to the 1980s.
A compensation bill passed the National Assembly on March 2 limiting compensation to 20 million won, or about $17,300.
The human rights center at the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) criticized the government on a March 7 statement for “deceiving the victims, (some of whom) have lived for 50 years without their arms or legs.”
Image: Landmine warning by Globalism Pictures on 2005-04-26 13:50:27
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