Speaking today at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, South Korean Minister of Defense Acquisitions Chang Myoung-jin confirmed his country would have no choice but to dramatically increase military spending “if there is a huge demand” from the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump
During the presidential campaign Trump talked up the idea of having nations like South Korea pay more of the cost for their own defense, saying the US could no longer afford to foot the bill. At the same time, other officials in South Korea claim to have been assured by Trump since the election that no such changes are actually coming.
Chang also appeared to downplay the chances of such a move, saying it was a “big if,” saying South Korea would have to cut back on social spending as a way to pay for the increases in their already $40 billion annual military bill.
South Korea’s current budget already places it in the top 10 in global military spending, and while they get into annual rounds of tit-for-tat threats with the neighboring north seemingly every spring, there is no reason to think that South Korea really “needs” to dramatically up the budget from its current levels, even if the large number of US troops on the Korean Peninsula are withdrawn.
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