See More on Facebook

Diplomacy

US and South Korea at odds over military costs

South Korea-US military cost-sharing deadlock drags out as US demands $1 billion.


Written by

Updated: January 24, 2019

South Korea’s struggle to reach an agreement with the US for the cost of maintaining US troops here intensified when the gap between the total amount of Seoul’s contributions demanded by the US and that which Seoul was able to accept, as well as differences over the contract period, widened in December as a result of instructions from the very top in Washington, sources said Wednesday.

Through a diplomatic channel, the US demanded in late December that South Korea pay $1.2 billion for costs related to the presence of the 28,500 US Armed Forces soldiers, under a contract valid for one year. The proposal, deemed to be an ultimatum from US President Donald Trump, stipulated that no offer less than $1 billion would be entertained.

Negotiations between the allies have reached a stalemate since their last meeting on Dec. 13, when talks broke down. It was their 10th round of talks since they began in March.

South Korean negotiators insist that the amount should not exceed 1 trillion won ($887 million), calling that number psychologically significant for the Korean public, and that there should be a three-year contract.

“If we seal a one-year deal that will be applied to just this year, we have to enter into negotiations for the next year and beyond right away. … The validity period (that the US suggested) is hard to accept, as well as the amount,” a source said on condition of anonymity.

The two sides narrowed their differences to a certain extent in November and a deal was to be closed by the end of 2018, but the sudden demand that Seoul shoulder a much higher cost burden led the talks to break down.

The previous Special Measures Agreement, a five-year contract between the US and South Korea, expired Dec. 31. Under the pact, South Korea paid about 960 billion won per year for the stationing of US troops.

According to government statistics, South Korea increased its contribution from 680.4 billion won in 2005 to 960.2 billion won in 2018, a difference of 41.12 percent.

In August, Trump complained the US was “subsidizing” the militaries of South Korea, Japan and its Middle Eastern ally Saudi Arabia. “When you have wealthy countries like Saudi Arabia, like Japan, like South Korea, why are we subsidizing their military?” Trump asked, adding that the US paid for “about 60 percent” of South Korea’s military costs.

Since 1991, the allies have held talks to decide how they should share the costs of stationing US Forces Korea here to support a stable presence and protect South Korea against military threats from North Korea. The negotiations focus on three areas: payroll, construction and logistics.

Meanwhile, North Korea’s newspaper on Wednesday criticized Washington over its move to ask for more money from South Korea for the cost-sharing deal. The Rodong Sinmun said in a commentary that the US demand is outdated, referring to last year’s summit deals between the Koreas’ leaders where they agreed to ease military tensions on the peninsula.

“The demand for a rise in (Seoul’s) share in the defense cost for deploying US strategic assets amid such conditions is in itself anachronistic,” the paper said.

By Park Han-na (hnpark@heraldcorp.com)



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


The Korea Herald
About the Author: The Korea Herald is the nation’s largest English-language daily and the country’s sole member of the Asia News Network.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Diplomacy

New Delhi slams Islamabad for unilaterally stopping postal services

Prasad further said that Pakistan ‘without any prior notice or information has stopped sending postal department’s letter to India’. Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Monday said that Pakistan had stopped postal service from India for the last two months and slammed the move saying that it was in contravention of international norms. “For the last two months, Pakistan has stopped postal service from India. It’s directly in contravention of the World Postal Union’s norms,” Prasad told reporters. “But Pakistan is Pakistan,” Prasad, who is the Minister for Communications and IT, added. He said that Pakistan “without any prior notice or information has stopped sending postal department’s letter to India”. Pakistan has upped the ante against India ever since Parliament withdrew special category status to Jammu and Kashmir by revoking Article 370 of its Constitution.


By Dawn
October 22, 2019

Diplomacy

Beijing sounds warning against foreign interference at annual security forum

China’s Defence Minister Wei Fenghe delivers a speech at the Xiangshan Forum in Beijing, China. China’s Defence Minister Wei Fenghe sounded a thinly veiled warning against the United States at a security conference in Beijing, saying that interfering in the internal affairs of others and inciting colour revolutions have led to wars and turbulence in various regions in the world. Such “reckless interference” would not foster harmonious relations, said General Wei on Monday (Oct 21) in his speech to open the conference. Beijing has blamed foreign countries, including the US, for inciting the unrest that has convulsed Hong Kong for five months. It has also


By The Straits Times
October 22, 2019

Diplomacy

Border clash with India leaves 7 dead in Pakistan

Kashmir is becoming an untenable boiling point. At least six civilians and a Pakistani soldier were killed as Indian troops resorted to “indiscriminate and ruthless” shelling from across the Line of Control (LoC) in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), officials said on Sunday. Officials said that nine other civilians were injured, adding that this was the highest death toll in 2019 in a single day of Indian shelling from across the dividing line. Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) notified through a tweet that one soldier had been martyred in the exchange of fire while two others were injured. ISPR added that in response to unprovoked ceasefire violations by India in Jura, Shahkot and Nauseri sectors, nine Indian soldiers were killed while several ot


By Dawn
October 21, 2019

Diplomacy

Chinese TV drama to air on Kenya’s national television

China has expanded aggressively into Africa. Kenya Broadcasting Corporation on Saturday signed a partnership agreement with China’s National Radio and Television Administration that will see the national broadcaster air a popular Chinese TV drama, Feather Flies to the Sky. The drama is a 55-episode series that will be aired by national broadcaster Channel one TV until June next year. Speaking during the launch event in Nairobi, Kenya, Dr Naim Bilal, the managing director of Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, said the TV series has been dubbed in Standard Kiswahili, one of the official languages in Kenya, to make it appealing to many people. “We have reviewed the series, looked at its quality and content as well as the quality of the language, and we are fully satisfied that it’s a drama that is going to entertain Kenyans,” Bilal said. He sa


By China Daily
October 21, 2019

Diplomacy

Hong Kong march spirals into chaos, again

Violence begets violence as more protests hits Hong Kong on the weekend. An illegal protest rally through Hong Kong’s Tsim Sha Tsui spiraled into chaos on Sunday, as protesters began to engage in acts of vandalism and arson even as the police warned of a response. Signs of trouble began to emerge towards the end of the march near the West Kowloon terminus in a now familiar pattern. Protesters were seen spraying over the MTR logo with black paint, building barricades and digging up bricks from the ground. At Tsim Sha Tsui Police Station, demonstrators tossed multiple rounds of Molotov cocktails at the station and police responded with multiple volleys of tear gas from the upper floors of the building while warning protesters over a loudspeaker to stop. Two hoses were constantly spraying water to douse the flames. A similar scene played out at the Mong Kok police station, prompting officers insid


By Asia News Network
October 21, 2019

Diplomacy

‘History will take note of those who ridiculed removal of Article 370’: PM Modi in Maharashtra

PM Modi also expressed confidence that the BJP will break all victory records in the October 21 Maharashtra Assembly elections. Prime Minister on Thursday once again lashed out at the opposition saying that history will take note of those who mocked the abrogation of Article 370, that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir. “Whenever Article 370 will be discussed in history, — the decision that was taken in the interest of the country — the people who opposed and ridiculed will be remembered,” PM Modi said while addressing a poll rally in Maharashtra’s Parli. He said the next week’s state Assembly elections were a battle between BJP’s “karyashakti” (power of development) and opposition’s “swarth shakti” (selfishness). Further targeting the Congress and NCP leaders, he wondered if “frustrated and dejected” people could do anything good for people. “A Congress


By The Statesman
October 18, 2019