South Korea Plans 9% Increase in 2008 Defense Budget
In 2005, Republic of Korea (ROK, aka. South Korea) Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung said that he aimed to increase the defense budget from 2.8% of the total gross domestic product to 3.2% by 2008, a 12.5% increase in relative terms even before economic growth is factored in. In 2006, the government announced plans to cut troop levels from 680,000 to 500,000 by 2020, and funnel more money to modern weaponry. This related move is partly driven by weapons costs that rise much faster than inflation as each new generation is fielded, and partly by the realities of South Korea’s birth rate and future population pyramid.
With 2008 approaching, the ROK intends to keep a string of 8-10% increases going, after raising its defense budget from 22.8 trillion won in 2006 to 24.49 trillion (+9.7%) in 2007, and now to 26.7 trillion won (about $28.9 billion, +9%) in 2008. Ordinary operating expenditures rise by 6.2% in 2008 to 18.9 trillion won, with improvements in soldiers’ living conditions and salaries up 2.6% to 3 trillion won. True to the espoused strategy, procurement will rise 16.5% to 7.8 trillion won, covering both domestic production and imported weapons. The ministry will also set aside 120 billion won for R&D projects, from domestic UAVs to Korea’s new XK2 tank, their recently-unveiled XK-21 amphibious infantry fighting vehicle, and tank landing ships. KOIS report. See also:
- RAND’s Corp (2006) – A Brief Analysis of the Republic of Korea’s Defense Reform Plan” [PDF format]
- Defense News (Sept 24/07) – Different Agendas Drive Western Pacific Budgets
- Global Analysis – Budget 2008: Welfare and Defence Dominate South Korea’s Budget
- Nautilus Institute (June 26/06) – Policy Forum Online 06-49A: “The Self-Reliant National Defense of South Korea and the Future of the U.S.-ROK Alliance”