June 04, 2020

What the military cost-sharing dispute could mean for the U.S.-ROK alliance
Retired LTG Chun In-bum weighs in on the increasingly contentious debate

For the past year or so the United States and South Korea have been negotiating a new Special Measures Agreement (SMA), more commonly known as cost-sharing negotiations, to determine what would be the fair amount of money that Seoul should pay for the stationing of American forces on the Korean peninsula.

Past negotiations determined not only the amount, but also the duration, of an agreement. Typically, South Korea paid almost 50% of the stationing cost under a five year agreement. "Stationing cost" was defined by excluding pay and allowances for U.S. soldiers to ensure that American soldiers are not perceived as mercenaries. This definition substantially reduced the total stationing cost.