SEOUL (Reuters) – The U.S. military will put nearly 9,000 South Korean workers on unpaid leave starting in April if no agreement is reached to share the cost of keeping 28,500 U.S. troops in South Korea, it told the government. The United States will host the Republic of Korea (ROK) from October 22-24 in Honolulu, Hawaii, for consultations on the Special Measures Agreement (SMA). The SMA, a kind of burden-sharing agreement, is the mechanism by which the Republic of Korea shares the costs of the U.S. armed forces for the defense of the Republic of Korea. The United States has had ASMOs with the Republic of Korea since 1991 and this new agreement will replace the current ADM, which expires at the end of 2019. However, the two countries have yet to agree on a broader cost-sharing agreement, which has led to workers being fired. South Korea and the United States are emblapped in a nearly two-year-old dispute over how much each would have to pay to support the roughly 28,500 U.S. troops deployed in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War that ended in a ceasefire, not a peace treaty. The workers, mostly employed at U.S. bases, were placed on unpaid leave in April, resulting in a temporary agreement in June for South Korea to fund about 4,000.
The ROK position has been well received by the local public, but is almost no beginner for “real” negotiations. The confusing presentation of their position in the United States is equally problematic. In December 2019, the US chief negotiator publicly stated in Seoul: “As parties to the agreement, we can amend the agreement if we agree to do so together. As a result, the ADM Agreement has been updated and amended over the years. This statement, with the United States. The characterization of its attitude as an extension of the previous ADM is misleading, as “SMA” is not only an acronym for the Special Measures Agreement, but also for the Special Measures Agreement with respect to Article 5 of the Agreement on Facilities and Territories and the Status of the United States Armed Forces in Korea (SOFA). Section 5 of SOFA deals only with “facilities and domains” for USFK. The U.S. statement of its position ignores the fact that, in seeking costs beyond “facilities and areas” such as training, equipment, and transportation, the U.S. must recognize that the current negotiations are inconsistent with the original spirit of the ADM. This gap gives the Government of the Republic of Korea flexibility on legal and procedural issues related to burden-sharing negotiations. With respect to the expired ADM, the Department of Defense believes that a fair sharing of the burden between the governments of the United States and the Republic of Korea is in the interest of all parties.
We strongly encourage our Ally to reach a fair agreement as soon as possible. The US has shown considerable flexibility in the approach to ESMA`s negotiations and has requested that ROK do the same. Although the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) have made some progress in the negotiations on the Special Measures Agreement (SMA), they both do not appear to be prepared for real negotiations. . . .