Opening of military shooting range creates stir
The Ministry of National Defense has decided to open up one of its military shooting ranges for reserve forces in Seocho-gu, southern Seoul to the public so civilians can engage in target shooting.
Under the initial arrangement, made with a private organization, it will open the firing range to citizens aged 15 years and older for a test period starting October to the end of next year.
If the trial is successful the ministry plans to open similar ranges in Seoul and in six other cities. By opening them, citizens will be able to experience “survival drills” and carry out target practice for a fee.
For survival drills, the charge will be 18,000 won while fees for participating in target shooting will be set between 20,000 won and 24,000 won. The weapon of choice will be the M16, used by U.S. soldiers during the Vietnam War and still commonly carried by Korean servicemen.
Opening up the ranges to the public, especially to teenagers, is causing some controversy, with critics saying it could cause serious security problems.
The ministry is poised to push forward with the plan despite the concerns. “Korean law permits citizens aged 14 or older to shoot at these ranges,” said an official at the ministry.“But we plan to manage them with tight restrictions, allowing it for those aged above 15.”
The official said that they have not drawn up specific safety measures as a private organization that will primarily run the ranges has yet to be selected. But the plan is to conclude a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the chosen entity within the month.