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Are swords allowed in Korea?


Swords have played a significant role in Korean history, particularly during the Joseon Dynasty. However, with modernization and changes in laws, are swords still allowed in Korea? This article will explore the legality of swords in Korea.

Korean History and Swords

Swords, particularly the curved single-edged sword known as the “Hwando,” were a symbol of power and prestige during the Joseon Dynasty. They were used by high-ranking officials and the military. The sword was considered a status symbol and was often given as gifts to foreign dignitaries.

Current Laws on Swords in Korea

In Korea, swords are considered dangerous weapons and are regulated under the Swords and Firearms Control Law. According to the law, swords are classified into two categories: decorative swords and functional swords. Decorative swords, such as those used for traditional Korean martial arts, are allowed without a license. However, functional swords require a license and are subject to strict regulations.

Requirements to Obtain a Sword License

To obtain a license for a functional sword in Korea, individuals must be at least 20 years old and pass a written test on sword handling and safety. They must also pass a physical fitness test to ensure they can handle the sword safely. Additionally, they must have no criminal record and provide a valid reason for needing a sword.

Reasons for Needing a Sword

The reasons for needing a sword in Korea include practicing traditional martial arts, collecting swords as a hobby or for display purposes, or for use in film or theatrical productions. However, self-defense is not considered a valid reason for needing a sword.

Sword Regulations in Public Places

Even with a license, individuals are not allowed to carry their sword in public places such as schools, government buildings, or airports. Swords must be stored in a safe place and not left unattended. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in fines or imprisonment.

Penalties for Illegally Possessing Swords

If an individual is found in possession of a sword without a license, they can face up to three years in prison or a fine up to 10 million won (approximately $9,000 USD). Additionally, if the sword is used in a crime, the penalty can be increased.

Exceptions to Sword Regulations

There are exceptions to the sword regulations in Korea. Traditional martial arts schools are allowed to use swords for training purposes, and individuals can apply for a permit to carry a sword during traditional festivals or ceremonies.

Impact of Sword Regulations on Korean Culture

Some argue that the strict regulations on swords in Korea have had a negative impact on traditional Korean culture. The use of swords in traditional martial arts and cultural events is an important part of Korean history and identity. However, others argue that the regulations are necessary for public safety.

Comparison to Other Countries’ Sword Laws

Sword laws vary by country. In Japan, swords are considered cultural artifacts and are regulated under the Sword and Firearms Control Law. In the United States, there are no federal laws regulating swords, but some states have their own laws regarding sword ownership and use.


Swords are still allowed in Korea, but with strict regulations. While traditional martial arts and cultural events continue to use swords, individuals must obtain a license and follow regulations for functional swords. As with any weapon, safety should always be the top priority to prevent accidents and misuse.

Are swords illegal in South Korea?

The following items are not allowed to be brought into Korea due to restrictions: weapons (including replicas and decorations) like guns and swords, gunpowder, explosive materials, and toxic substances. Additionally, illegal drugs such as opium, marijuana/cannabis, and cocaine are also prohibited.

Is it legal to own a sword in Korea?

Under Korea’s Guns, Swords, and Explosives Control Act, it is prohibited to possess knives longer than 15cm and certain other types of knives.

Did Korea have katanas?

The Korean jingum and Japanese katana swords have many similarities in terms of their design, construction materials (steel is preferred), and expert craftsmanship. They are both highly valued in sword fighting competitions for their exceptional quality.

Is it illegal to fight in Korea?

In Korea, there is a law called “stand-your-ground” which permits individuals to use force in order to defend themselves or others against potential dangers. This law was established on January 10, 2018.

Is owning a sword legal USA?

Swords vary in their appearance and dimensions, but they are often classified as “bladed weapons” according to legal standards. Similar to knives, state laws typically prohibit the possession of swords that exceed a certain length. However, the specific laws may vary depending on whether the sword is sheathed or not. This was reported on February 7, 2014.

Are katanas legal in Japan?

In Japan, owning a katana is only legal if it has been certified as an important cultural property or art object. However, other types of swords are permitted to be owned and carried in the country.

It is important to note that the regulations on swords in Korea are constantly evolving. In recent years, there have been discussions about revising the laws to allow for easier access to swords for traditional martial arts and cultural events. However, these discussions are still ongoing, and it is unclear whether any changes will be made.

Despite the strict regulations, there is still a market for swords in Korea. Many collectors and enthusiasts purchase decorative swords or obtain licenses for functional swords. There are also shops that specialize in sword-making and restoration, catering to those interested in traditional Korean craftsmanship.

Overall, while the regulations on swords in Korea may seem strict, they are in place to ensure public safety and prevent misuse of dangerous weapons. At the same time, efforts are being made to preserve and celebrate the cultural significance of swords in Korean history.

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