Part of the money South Korea pays annually for US troops to be stationed here is not being used, reflecting a gap between the cost-sharing agreement and the actual required costs, a lawmaker said Thursday.
According to data from the Ministry of Defense revealed by Rep. Kim Jong-dae of the Justice Party, the defense costs allotted for construction related to US Forces Korea that was not used and rolled over to the following year amounted to 328 billion won in 2016. The balance includes the accrued and delayed amount in construction projects.
The USFK costs South Korea agreed to shoulder include expenses on personnel, arsenals and facilities. Among these expenses, the money allotted to building military facilities have seen an annual surplus.
“The unused money on facilities reflects the gap between the agreed sharing costs and the actual cost needed,” Rep. Kim said, demanding a review of the cost-sharing structure.
“In that way, we would be spending money where we really need, in the fields of defense and national security,” he added, calling for a reduction in Korean contributions.
About 28,500 American troops are stationed on the peninsula to deter North Korean aggression, a legacy of the 1950-1953 Korean War that ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, leaving the divided peninsula still technically at war.
The two allies renewed the Special Measures Agreement in 2014, with Seoul agreeing to pay 920 billion won to have the US troops in the country, a 5.8 percent increase from a year earlier. The bilateral deal was first signed in 1991.
By Jo He-rim (firstname.lastname@example.org)