Strict Gun Control Laws in South Korea

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SEOUL, South Korea) -- When news of frequent shooting incidents comes out of the United States, Koreans let out a small sigh of relief for living in a place where gun ownership is strictly illegal.

Military service for Korean men is mandatory, but that is probably the only time a regular civilian will have a chance to hold a gun.

In South Korea, only government-authorized personnel could own or carry guns.  After taking a physical exam, permits are handed out to a very limited number of people: Body guards of the president or foreign heads of states; firearm workers at industrial mining or construction sites; certified hunters or Olympic athlete shooters.

When a citizen is caught selling or buying guns -- produced in Korea for export purpose only -- the penalty is up to 10 years in prison or up to $18,000 in fines.  Even possessing a toy gun that resembles a real gun is strictly prohibited.

In the past five years, a total of 50 cases of gun-related crimes leading to death or injury were reported.  Many were accidents, not intentional murder attempts.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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