The defense ministry said Wednesday it has proposed an 8 percent on-year hike in its budget for next year to strengthen national defense capabilities and better manage troops.
According to a ministry report presented to the National Assembly's National Defense Committee, the ministry has asked the government to earmark 50.43 trillion won ($43.23 billion) for the budget for 2020, up from this year's 46.7 trillion won.
If accepted, it will be the first time that the defense budget surpasses the 50 trillion-won mark.
Of the total, the ministry plans to spend 16.8 trillion won on boosting defense capabilities in 2020, up 9.3 percent from this year, and to set aside 33.63 trillion won for running military forces, an on-year growth of 7.4 percent.
Such an increase is necessary to build "independent" capabilities to counter threats from all directions and to nurture defense industries, as well as key technologies that would contribute to the overall national economic development, the report showed.
Last year, the ministry rolled out a five-year blueprint that calls for an average annual increase rate of 7.5 percent compared with an average of 4.9 percent over the last decade.
The finance ministry will finalize the government's budget proposal for 2020 and submit it the National Assembly by Sept. 3 for approval, according to officials.
The ministry also said in the report to parliament that no unusual moves have been detected with regard to North Korea's nuclear facilities, with the 5-megawatt reactor at the Yongbyon nuclear complex remaining suspended.
But there have been continued movements of personnel and vehicles at missile facilities, it said.
The report also said the North has been carrying out an inter-Korean military tension reduction accord signed in September last year that calls for the halt of all hostile acts on land, at sea and in the air between the two sides.
Noting that the North Korean military began their annual summertime drills, the Seoul ministry said that the North appears to be putting a focus on the management of situations in inter-Korean border areas in the wake of the crossing of a boat into the South's waters last month.
The small wooden boat carrying four North Koreans arrived at South Korea's eastern port of Samcheok unchecked on June 15, after crossing the inter-Korean maritime border in the East Sea.
According to their wishes, two of them were returned home and two have remained here as they said they wanted to defect to the South. (Yonhap)