How Korea's Cost for USFK Upkeep Has Kept Rising

  • By Ahn Jun-yong

    January 24, 2019 11:33

    The Korean government has shouldered an ever-increasing portion of the annual cost to maintain American troops here since the Special Measures Agreement signed with the U.S. government in 1991.

    The money has paid for Koreans working for the U.S. Forces Korea, maintenance and expansion of USFK facilities, and logistics.

    Korea covers just under 75 percent of the salaries of Koreans working at USFK bases. The country also provides ammunition storage, aircraft repair and transport support. The tab for building military installations is covered either by providing materials or in cash.

    Since 1991, Korea's share of the bill rose from around W107 billion to W906.2 billion last year, when W442.2 billion was spent to cover the costs of building military installations, W371 billion on workers' wages and W145 billion on logistics (US$1=W1,128).

    A government source admitted that more than 90 percent of the money flows back into the Korean economy since the Korean staff spend their wages here and a considerable amount of construction and logistic costs is paid to Korean builders and contractors.

    The U.S. government is reluctant to reveal the exact cost of maintaining the USFK, so it is unclear what proportion of the total Korea shoulders, but experts estimate it at a minimum of 50 percent.

    The U.S. has been unable to use hundreds of billions of won in money Korea has paid, but that is because the construction period for military installations causes a gap in payment and spending, according to a Defense Ministry official.

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