US President-elect Donald Trump’s claims that Washington’s allies are “freeloading” on defense could foreshadow bumpy negotiations over sharing the cost of stationing US forces here.
As of 2016, South Korea pays about 944.1 billion won ($808 million) for the US Forces Korea, which covers for a little less than half of its estimated operating costs.
Japan, which hosts more US troops of some 54,000 in military personnel alone, agreed in 2015 to spend about 189.9 billion yen annually, according to the US Department of Defense.
South Korea allocates 2.5 percent of its defense budget to USFK operating costs, compared to Japan’s 3.8 percent.
In the prospect of Trump’s impact on the decades-old alliance between the two countries, South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo met Thursday with Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Lee Sun-jin and Parliamentary Defense Committee Chairman Rep. Kim Young-woo.
Han voiced his confidence that Trump will change his views on the cost-sharing, once he learns of its specifics.