Ruling party rebuts US claims on defense cost

Ruling party rebuts US claims on defense cost

By Choi Ha-young

Rep. Kim Tae-nyeon
Rep. Kim Tae-nyeon, chief policymaker of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK), said Tuesday that South Korea is already paying enough for the presence of U.S. forces here.

"The U.S. demand that South Korea pay more for U.S. Forces Korea is unreasonable," Kim said during a party meeting. "The government estimates that South Korea covers at least 50 percent of the costs for the troops. Also, Seoul bore over 90 percent of the expenditure for the expansion of Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek."

Kim's remarks came as Seoul and Washington are preparing to begin talks soon to deal with the cost sharing issue. Experts here forecast the Donald Trump administration will demand up to 1 billion dollars from South Korea.

"Korea's cost sharing is exceptionally high compared to other U.S. allies," Kim said. "Korea pays 0.061 percent of its GDP to cover the costs for the USFK. This is higher than Japan's 0.038 percent and Germany's 0.013 percent."

He also noted that the USFK works for mutual benefits, rather than for unilateral gain for South Korea. "The DPK will actively help the government push for the negotiation backed by public support," Kim said.

"To ensure transparency and propriety in the expenditure, the DPK will also seek to change the system on it."

The lawmaker's remarks were in response to a press briefing by U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Defense for Strategy and Force Development Elbridge Colby, Jan. 29. Asked about the upcoming burden sharing negotiation, Colby said: "From an equity point of view, we have to calibrate."

"The U.S. spends between 3 percent of its GDP on defense. It's a larger proportion than any of our allies and partners," the senior U.S. administration official said.