The United States Forces Korea is sitting on more than 1 trillion won ($930.5 million) in South Korean contributions for stationing the troops here, a Defense Ministry report showed Thursday.
According to the report submitted to lawmaker Park Joo-sun, USFK had a total of 1.04 trillion won from South Korea‘s payment in defense cost sharing for American troops as of early this year.
The total is composed of a 738 billion won bank balance plus the 303.5 billion won yet to be contributed by Seoul, according to the report.
For the previous three years to 2013, Seoul has earmarked 303.5 billion won less than what it should have paid to USFK in defense cost contributions due to the American troops’ sluggish budget execution.
The report came amid local criticism over Washington‘s calls on Seoul to hike its financial contributions to USFK’s defense activities in the on-going talks to jointly share the cost to keep about 28,500 U.S. troops stationed here.
The allies have shared the cost of USFK under the Special Measures Agreement since 1991. The previous agreement, signed in 2009, expires at the end of this year.
Recent rounds of Seoul-Washington talks to split the annual defense costs have only shown that the two countries are wide apart on how much Seoul should contribute.
Diplomatic sources have said the U.S. is asking South Korea to contribute around 1 trillion won annually, about 200 billion won more than what Seoul is willing to pay.
Lawmaker Park lashed out at the U.S. demand, saying that “it doesn‘t make sense that they demand a further hike when they are sitting on a fund of over 1 trillion won.” (Yonhap News)