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Are guns legal in South Korea?


South Korea is known for its strict gun laws, which are among the toughest in the world. The country’s gun control laws are designed to reduce crime and maintain public safety. However, there is still some confusion among locals and foreigners alike about whether guns are legal in South Korea.

History of Gun Control in South Korea

South Korea has a long history of strict gun control laws that date back to the 1950s. These laws were put in place to prevent the proliferation of weapons following the Korean War. The government has since maintained strict control over the possession and use of firearms, with very few exceptions.

Current Gun Laws in South Korea

Under current South Korean law, it is illegal for civilians to own guns unless they are approved by the government. The government only grants licenses for hunting or sport shooting, and these licenses are heavily regulated. Additionally, individuals must pass a rigorous background check and training program before they can obtain a license.

Type of Guns Allowed in South Korea

Even with a license, civilians are only allowed to own certain types of guns in South Korea. Handguns are strictly prohibited for civilian use, while rifles and shotguns can only be used for hunting or sport shooting. Fully automatic weapons are illegal for civilians to possess.

Penalties for Illegal Gun Possession

The penalties for illegal gun possession in South Korea are severe. Anyone caught with an unapproved firearm faces up to seven years in prison and a fine of up to 50 million won (roughly $42,000 USD). Repeat offenders face even steeper penalties.

Police Response to Gun Incidents

Given the rarity of gun ownership in South Korea, the police have little experience responding to gun-related incidents. However, they receive extensive training on how to handle such incidents and are well-equipped to respond to any potential threats.

Public Opinion on Gun Control

The majority of South Koreans support strict gun control laws. According to a 2015 survey, 86% of South Koreans believe that gun ownership should be restricted to law enforcement and the military.

Gun Violence in South Korea

Gun violence is extremely rare in South Korea due to the country’s strict gun control laws. In 2018, there were only eight gun-related deaths nationwide. This low rate of gun violence is a testament to the effectiveness of the country’s gun control measures.

Comparison to Other Countries

Compared to other countries around the world, South Korea has some of the toughest gun control laws. For example, in the United States, civilians are allowed to own a wide range of firearms, including handguns and semi-automatic rifles.

The Role of Guns in Korean Culture

Unlike in some other countries, guns do not play a significant role in Korean culture. Hunting is not a popular pastime, and most Koreans have never even held a firearm. As such, there is little cultural resistance to strict gun control measures.


In conclusion, guns are heavily regulated in South Korea and civilians must pass rigorous background checks and training programs to obtain a license. Even with a license, civilians are only allowed to own certain types of firearms. The penalties for illegal possession are severe, and gun violence is extremely rare. South Korea has some of the toughest gun control laws in the world, which are supported by the majority of its citizens.

Are South Koreans allowed to own guns?

South Korea has strict regulations on gun ownership, governed by the Act on the Safety Management of Guns, Swords, Explosives, etc. This law mandates that all privately-owned guns must be stored at local police stations and that gun owners must obtain and renew permits regularly.

Is it difficult to get a gun in Korea?

In order to own a firearm, a criminal record check is mandatory and only individuals who are not deemed risky are allowed to own one. Possession of firearms is only allowed for certain purposes, such as for sport shooting, hunting, or for occupational requirements.

Do Korean police carry guns?

Police in Korea do not carry rifles, only pistols. However, rifles and grenades are available in their arsenal. Additionally, there is a separate police commando unit in case of counterterrorism operations.

Can you own a gun in North Korea?

If you want to go hunting in North Korea, you must first get permission from the local authorities. Similarly, civilians in South Korea can’t possess guns without the proper permission from authorities, and in North Korea, individuals can face legal consequences for having guns without permission.

Are guns legal in China?

Most people are not allowed to own guns, except for those with hunting permits and some ethnic minorities. Law enforcement, military, paramilitary, and security personnel are the only ones who are permitted to use firearms.

How many people own guns in Korea?

This data indicates the quantity of firearms registered to individual owners and businesses in South Korea from 2007 to 2016. In 2016, there were 138.75 thousand firearms registered to individuals and businesses in South Korea. This information was last updated on December 19, 2022.

Despite its strict gun laws, South Korea has faced some challenges in recent years with regards to illegal firearms. In 2018, a soldier went on a shooting spree at a military base, killing five fellow soldiers and injuring seven others. The soldier had stolen a firearm from his unit and used it in the attack. This incident sparked renewed discussions about gun control in the country and prompted the government to review its policies.

The South Korean government has also been working to crack down on illegal firearms smuggling. In 2019, authorities seized more than 1,000 illegal firearms that had been smuggled into the country from the United States. The government has been increasing its efforts to combat illegal firearms trafficking and improve its border security measures to prevent such incidents from happening again.

In addition to its strict gun laws, South Korea also has a number of other measures in place to ensure public safety. For example, the country has a comprehensive CCTV system that is used to monitor public spaces and deter crime. The government also invests heavily in community policing programs and education initiatives to promote public safety.

Overall, South Korea’s strict gun control laws have proven effective in reducing gun violence and maintaining public safety. While there may be some challenges with regards to illegal firearms smuggling and incidents of violence, the government’s continued efforts to improve its policies and border security measures are likely to further strengthen its gun control measures in the years ahead.

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