U.S. proposes that South Korea pay 1 billion USD a year for military upkeep

Traci Lin, Jan. 24, 2019, 9:28 a.m.

The U.S. wants Korea to shoulder a whopping US$1 billion a year to maintain 28,500 American troops here.

The Korean government already picked up a W960 billion tab in upkeep for the U.S. Forces Korea last year and refuses to spend more than W1 trillion (US$1=W1,132).

A government source here said Tuesday, "U.S. Ambassador Harry Harris told Cheong Wa Dae of a proposal to boost the Korean share to $1 billion a year, while shortening the term of the cost-sharing agreement from the current five years to one."

Harris met with national security adviser Chung Eui-yong at Cheong Wa Dae late last month and told him that was the U.S.' "final draft." His visit came after U.S. and Korean officials broke off a 10th round of cost-sharing talks in Seoul on Dec. 13 without narrowing their differences.

The proposal is lower than the $1.6 billion U.S. President Donald Trump initially demanded, but Seoul finds even that hard to accept. The one-year validity suggests that the U.S. will ask for even more money next year.

On Monday, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told lawmakers that the differences between the two sides remain "huge" and asked for their understanding and support in the matter.

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