U.S. soldiers plant an anti-tank land mine somewhere on the Korean Peninsula, July 22, 1950.

U.S. soldiers plant an anti-tank land mine somewhere on the Korean Peninsula, July 22, 1950. (Library of Congress)

CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — A South Korean man was injured last week after triggering a land mine in Paju city, roughly seven miles from the Demilitarized Zone separating the two Koreas, according to government officials.

An unidentified man in his 60s was leveling the ground on his property with a bulldozer when the mine exploded around 11:30 a.m. Thursday, a Paju city hall official told Stars and Stripes by phone the next day.

It’s customary in South Korea for some government officials to speak to the media on condition of anonymity.

The man was taken to a nearby hospital for non-life threatening injuries to his ribs and a knee, a Paju fire station official said by phone. No one else was hurt.

An investigation is underway but initial evidence suggests it was an anti-tank mine planted during the 1950-53 Korean War, a Paju police officer said in a phone interview.

Two more unidentified explosives were discovered at the site after the explosion, a South Korean army officer said by phone.

Unexploded ordnance and land mines are a persistent threat near the border. More than 5 million artillery rounds were fired in the final two months of the war and up to 2 million unexploded ordnance and mines remain in the DMZ, according to the U.N. Command’s website.

A 57-year-old engineer was killed last year after triggering a land mine with a 10-ton excavator in Gangwon Province, a National Fire Agency official said by phone Monday.

The excavator flew from the explosion and hit a nearby rice field, killing the unidentified man instantly, he said.

In 2015, an unknown number of North Korean troops sneaked across the border to plant a series of land mines south of the DMZ, a Ministry of National Defense spokesman said at the time. Two South Korean soldiers were seriously injured after triggering three of those mines during a patrol near Paju on Aug. 4 of that year.

One soldier lost both legs — one below the knee and one above the knee — and the other had a foot amputated.

David Choi is based in South Korea and reports on the U.S. military and foreign policy. He served in the U.S. Army and California Army National Guard. He graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles.
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Yoo Kyong Chang is a reporter/translator covering the U.S. military from Camp Humphreys, South Korea. She graduated from Korea University and also studied at the University of Akron in Ohio.

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