South Korea agreed to a 13.9 percent increase in the funds it will pay to host US troops for 2021 after pressure from the previous Trump Administration for Seoul to foot more of the bill.
The increase means South Korea will pay about $1.03 billion for 2021, which is much lower than the numbers floated by President Trump, who rejected a similar increase in spending during talks under his administration. The last big increase in South Korea’s spending was in 2003 when Seoul agreed to a 17 percent increase.
The US has approximately 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea. President Trump had threatened to reduce that number, causing Congress to include an amendment in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act that limits funding for potential South Korea troops drawdowns.
As a candidate, President Biden assured South Korea that he would not threaten to reduce troop levels in the country as a way to negotiate a cost-sharing deal. Considering Seoul already offered a similar increase in spending to Trump, negotiating it was probably not too difficult for the Biden administration.