Tuesday September 17, 2019
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U.S. And S.Korea Struggle Over Maintenance Cost of U.S. Troops

The U.S. embassy spokesman declined to comment, citing “confidential diplomatic discussions.”

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South Korea
North Korean army soldiers watch the south side while South Korean, left, and U.S. Army soldiers stand guard at the truce villages of Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea, July 27, 2014. VOA

The United States and South Korea are struggling to narrow differences over sharing the cost of maintaining U.S. troops after a U.S. demand for a 50 percent increase in the South’s contribution, a South Korean lawmaker said Tuesday.

Despite 10 rounds of talks since March, the allies have failed to strike an accord to replace a 2014 deal that expired last year, which requires South Korea to pay about 960 billion won ($848 million) a year for keeping some 28,500 U.S. troops there.

U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly said that South Korea, where the United States has stationed soldiers since the 1950-53 Korean War, should bear more of the cost. The U.S. military has warned Korean workers on its bases they might be put on leave from mid-April if no deal is reached.

South Korea
U.S. and South Korean soldiers salute during a change of command and responsibility ceremony at Yongsan Garrison, a U.S. military base, in Seoul, South Korea, Aug. 11, 2017. VOA

Sudden, higher US demand

At their last meeting, in December, the United States made a “sudden, unacceptable” demand that South Korea pay more than 1.4 trillion won per year, about 1.5 times its current contribution, according to Hong Young-pyo, a senior ruling party legislator.

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha briefed a group of lawmakers on the talks Monday. Any deal is subject to parliamentary approval.

“The negotiations were deadlocked,” Hong told a meeting with lawmakers. “The U.S. side suddenly made a proposal at the last stage which was difficult for us to accept.”

A spokesman at the U.S. embassy in Seoul declined to comment.

No further meetings scheduled

When asked about the U.S. demand Monday, Kang declined to specify numbers but said there was a “very big difference” in the positions between the two countries.

South Korea
A U.S. Army captain learns a few Korean terms from two Korean Army soldiers during the 2016 Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises in Yongin, South Korea, Aug. 25, 2016. VOA

“We’ll work to reach an agreement that’s reasonable, affordable and explainable to the National Assembly and the people,” Kang told reporters.
Kang Seok-ho, another lawmaker who attended the foreign minister’s briefing, said the government’s stance was not to pay more than 1 trillion won a year and an agreement should be valid for five years, not one year as reportedly sought by the United States.

With another meeting not scheduled, the stalemate raises concerns about the funding gap and the posture of the 70-year alliance amid signs of a rift over North Korea policy.

About 70 percent of South Korea’s contribution covers the salaries of some 8,700 South Korean employees who provide administrative, technical and other services for the U.S. military.

Exercises suspended

Trump announced a halt to joint exercises with South Korea in June, after a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying they were very expensive and paid for mostly by the U.S.

Major joint exercises have since been suspended, which Washington said would expedite talks aimed at getting North Korea to give up its nuclear program, though some small-scale exercises have continued.

Korea
North Korean army soldiers are greeted by South Korean army soldiers, wearing helmets, as they cross the Military Demarcation Line inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to inspect the dismantled South Korean guard post in Cheorwon. VOA

U.S. Ambassador Harry Harris met South Korea’s national security advisor Chung Eui-yong late last month to urge a swift agreement, warning that the United States may consider implementing the defense treaty “in a different way,” South Korea’s Dong-A Ilbo newspaper reported Tuesday, citing an unidentified diplomatic source.

South Korea’s foreign ministry confirmed Harris had visited Chung but declined to give details.

Also Read: The United States Of America Starts Pulling Out Troops From Syria

The U.S. embassy spokesman declined to comment, citing “confidential diplomatic discussions.”

North Korean state media has recently increased complaints about South Korea’s military ties to the United States, but South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, has said reducing U.S. military commitments would be an unlikely option for Washington. (VOA)

Next Story

Exhibition Marking 100 Years of First Display of Korean Anti-Colonial Resistance to Open in Delhi

Notably, the entire Korean Peninsula was under Japanese occupation for 35 years from 1910-1945 because the Korean War (1950-53) separated it into North and South

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Exhibition, South Korea, India
The exhibition "100th Anniversary of the March 1st Independence Movement: One Shiny Day", commemorating the spirit of the March 1st Movement - pioneering display of anti-colonial sentiment against its coloniser Japan - will open at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA). Pixabay

As part of South Korea-India cultural exchange, an exhibition marking 100 years of the first display of Korean anti-colonial resistance will open in Delhi, and a show on Mahatma Gandhi’s Dandi March will travel to a South Korean museum next year.

The exhibition “100th Anniversary of the March 1st Independence Movement: One Shiny Day”, commemorating the spirit of the March 1st Movement – pioneering display of anti-colonial sentiment against its coloniser Japan – will open at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) on August 14 and will continue till September 29.

Notably, the entire Korean Peninsula was under Japanese occupation for 35 years from 1910-1945 because the Korean War (1950-53) separated it into North and South.

On March 1, 1919, the movement was joined by people from different walks of life regardless of their region, status and wealth, hinting at the people’s will for independence at home and abroad.

Exhibition, South Korea, India
As part of South Korea-India cultural exchange, an exhibition marking 100 years of the first display of Korean anti-colonial resistance will open in Delhi, and a show on Mahatma Gandhi’s Dandi March will travel to a South Korean museum next year. Pixabay

The upcoming show will display art inspired by the North-South divide, the Korean War refugees, downfall of Korean imperialists, and the first freedom struggle and people’s solidarity.

“The exhibition will display the artworks of 12 artists teams: KWON Hayoun, KIM BoMin, KIM Woojo, BAE Sungmi, SHON Sunghyun, AHN Eun-me, AHN Changhong, LEE Sanghyun, LEE Woosung, JEONG Jae-wan and JO Dongwhan + JO Haejun,” the Korean Cultural Centre India said in a statement to IANS.

The exhibition will also celebrate 15th August, which is the Independence Day of both India and Korea – North and South.

“The exhibition presents the underlying theme of the sorrow and restoration of South Korea that has similar modern history to India. I hope the artworks promote mutual understanding and shared values of both people of India and Korea,” Shin Bong-kil, South Korea’s Ambassador to India, said.

Also Read- Integration of Jammu & Kashmir to Indian Mainland Brings Uniformity to Economic Policies of Both Regions

To deepen the Korea-India friendship through shared culture, NGMA’s in-house curated exhibition on Gandhi’s ‘Salt March’ in Dandi, will open next year at Daegu Art Museum in Daegu, South Korea.

The show of sculptures, paintings, sketches and art installations, will signify the non-violent independence movements of both Indian and Korean people.

The multimedia exhibition “Dandi Yatraa” is part of the year-long celebrations of the 150th birth anniversary of Gandhi and can be currently viewed at NGMA here. (IANS)