South Korea is not ‘free’ rider as Trump claims

(From Korea Times)

By Rachel Lee

While U.S. Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump wants South Korea to foot the bill for American troops here, Seoul has increased its payment nine times since the cost-sharing treaty was signed 23 years ago.

South Korean crew on domestically made K-1 tank

South Korean crew on domestically made K-1 tank

Last year, South Korea paid 932 billion won ($806 million) for the 28,500 U.S. troops here, which the government says was about 50 percent of the total cost estimated to be around 2 trillion won.

There is the possibility that the U.S. may face calls to withdraw its troops from South Korea, if the billionaire property tycoon becomes president and renews his demand, as Seoul believes 2 trillion won is too much of a burden for the country.

Since the Special Measures Agreement signed in 1991 between the two allies, Seoul has continued to increase the payment for the U.S. troops stationed in the country. In 1991, Seoul paid only 150 million won.

In 2014, Seoul and Washington renewed the cost-sharing accord, with Seoul agreeing to pay 920 billion won annually until 2018, up 5.8 percent from 2013. Read more

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