S. Korea pushes to allow civilians to remove land mines

By Kim Eun-jung

SEOUL, Nov. 14 (Yonhap) -- The defense ministry said Thursday it has submitted a bill on land mines to allow civilians to remove explosives buried during the 1950-53 Korean War to facilitate ongoing removal efforts by the military.

Millions of land mines are believed to have been buried on the divided peninsula during the Korean War, particularly in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that bisects the peninsula.

Efforts to gradually clear land mines south of the DMZ and other civilian areas have been underway by the military since 2005. Although largely successful, evidence suggests that not all mines have been found.

"The bill is aimed at making legal grounds and a process to allow both the military and civilians to remove mines so as to protect lives and the property of people," the ministry said in a release.

Under the new bill, civilians who pass the state test and complete courses can apply for certification to remove mines near the border, which is under the strict control by the military.

The qualified mine removers will be required to subscribe to insurance to bear the responsibility of incidents taking place in the process.

Once the bill becomes law, the defense ministry will create certification tests and training courses, military officials said.

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