Issues and Challenges of Defense Burden Sharing Negotiation
Dr. KIM Jungsup
Senior Research Fellow, the Sejong Institute
The issue of defense burden sharing, which has been a thorny issue for the ROK-U.S. alliance for the past few years, is expected to be soon resolved as the Biden administration launches. Upon the Biden administration's inauguration, the ROK-U.S. negotiating team held a virtual conference on defense burden sharing, which had been suspended since February 5th. At the time, the U.S. State Department spokesman said that "the U.S. and the ROK negotiators are committed to expeditiously concluding an updated [Special Measures] Agreement that will strengthen our alliance and our combined defense posture." It has been said that an agreement is reportedly imminent. The Biden administration's priority on state affairs, which has emphasized the restoration of U.S. global leadership and damaged relations with the allies, is having a positive impact on defense sharing negotiations. The U.S., in particular, would not want to put its allies in a difficult position with defense burden sharing from the beginning of a new presidency—as it considers the strategic competition with China. Despite these positive aspects, however, diverse aspects of the defense burden sharing negotiations require special attention. How the issues between the U.S. and South Korea, such as the total amount of defense burden sharing, the duration of the agreement, and other controversies over detailed items, will be settled is particularly important. This article intends to examine how the defense burden sharing negotiations between the U.S. and South Korea have progressed--highlighting the key issues and tasks behind them.
※ Translator’s note: This is a third party’s unofficial translation of the original paper that was written in Korean. All references should be made to the original paper.
※ This article is written based on the author’s personal opinions and does not reflect the views of the Sejong Institute.