South Korea shoulders over 70 percent of the cost of stationing US troops here, a progressive civic group claimed Tuesday, suggesting its cost-sharing was higher than the estimates by the governments in Seoul and Washington.
Citing its analysis of the two government’s defense budgets, Solidarity for Peace and Reunification of Korea said as of 2016 South Korea contributed 72.6 percent to the stationing cost, well over the official government figure of 42 percent.
Under the current cost-sharing agreement signed in 2014, South Korea has provided $830 million per year for stationing US Forces in South Korea. The combined sharing cost is estimated to be $2 billion this year.
“The US government should stop its demand for increase in South Korea’s cost-sharing,” said Solidarity for Peace and Reunification of Korea. “It should also stop demanding South Korea pay for deploying US strategic assets.”
US President Donald Trump. Yonhap
Citing data from the Ministry of National Defense and other agency, the civic group claimed South Korea spent an estimated 3.4 trillion won ($3.1 billion) -- both directly and indirectly -- to support the presence of about 28,500 US troops.
The direct support cost came to about 1.8 trillion won, including its major contribution to the construction of US base Camp Humphreys. USFK Commander Gen. Vincent Brooks said Seoul paid about 92 percent of the base’s $10.8 billion construction costs.
The indirect support cost amounts to some 1.6 trillion won, including the value of the land for USFK bases that South Korea is providing for free -- an issue that was often cited as an “unfair calculation” of Seoul’s contribution to stationing USFK.
The revelation came after attempts by the US and South Korea to bridge their gaps on negotiations for the cost-sharing agreement, called Special Measure Agreement. The two countries held the third round of the negotiations in Washington in May. The current SMA is to expire on Dec. 31.
Seoul’s foreign ministry said the US brought up the issue of deployment of US strategic assets such as nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, hinting that the US demand South Korea share the burden for the maneuvers.