U.S. President Donald Trump has recently demanded that South Korea pay nearly 400% more in 2020 for the cost of keeping U.S. military troops in the Korean peninsula. While Trump had previously mentioned that South Korea should be compensating the U.S. for the cost of maintaining the troops in the peninsula, his proposal is unreasonable and sudden. The president’s abrupt decision is likely a response to the recent conflict with North Korea and their refusal to denuclearize the country. With the recent tensions between the countries with two extreme leaders, and the fact that North Korea had launched 24 missiles, it would be safest to finally pull American troops out of South Korea. The president’s proposal can be seen as a pretext for the withdrawal of the U.S. military from South Korea. That being said, it may not be in the U.S.’ favor to pull troops out of the peninsula.
Whether or not the proposal was an actual effort to pull troops out or just a plan to suck more capital out of one of the four Asian Tigers, South Korea may agree with, and possibly push for the withdrawal of troops. South Korea has previously mentioned that they would like to become an independent country in regard to managing their own security. After all, the Asian country is no longer the country stuck in poverty as it was prior to the Korean War. South Korea is now one of the leading economies of the world, with big companies like Hyundai and Samsung representing the nation’s market. Not only has the southern nation grown economically, but the northern counterpart has grown weak and an attack seems unlikely. Despite the recent rise in tensions, the North is unlikely to attack unless it was attacked first or was desperately in need of money or resources. Overall, a continuation of the stagnant Korean War seems doubtful.
If South Korea and the U.S. agreed to pull out troops from the peninsula, the U.S. will take economic and social losses in the process. South Korea will no longer have an incentive to buy what are now unnecessary weapons from the U.S., which accounts for a big portion of the U.S. military income. The U.S. will no longer be able to use South Korea as a base in Asia. For example,the dismantling of the Thermal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missiles in Korea would be a huge loss for the U.S. Not only is this a defense weapon against nuclear weaponry in North Korea, but also a surveillance mechanism to keep their eye on China and Russia.
America’s presence not only kept South Korea out of trouble, but also nations around them, such as Japan and Taiwan, from getting into conflict as well. Many other nations expect the U.S. to continue being the power that holds Southeast Asian countries together. Thus, it would not be in the U.S.’ favor to pull troops and influence out of South Korea due to social and economic reasons.