US Breaks Off Talks as South Korea Balks at $5 Billion Demand

Despite talk of compromise, US bailed on talks at first sign of resistance

The huge $920 million annual fee South Korea has already agreed to pay the US for keeping troops in their country didn’t last long, as President Trump quickly upped the demand to an unprecedented level, approaching $5 billion.

On Monday, the US negotiator was upbeat to start talks, expecting a compromise to be reached. Tuesday the talks fell apart in a matter of minutes, as the US walked out as soon as South Korean officials resisted the massive increase.

This $5 billion annually is believed to be considerably more than the troops actually cost, and the Pentagon has defended the number publicly only on the grounds that South Korea could afford to pay it. Privately, the suggestion is that Trump came up with the number off the top of his head, and it became policy.

South Korean officials aren’t too happy, especially with how quickly the US walked out of the talks, and US officials are now saying they’re giving them time to “reconsider” the demands. South Korean officials warned the move shows signs of eroding trust.

There is also a sense among South Korean officials that this whole thing is a bluff by the US, noting that there has been no suggestion that the US might reduce troop levels or withdraw if they don’t get their way.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of