To be ready for that new mission, the US forces in South Korea are being consolidated into fewer bases, from which they can be deployed on short notice. US Army infantry units are being withdrawn from camps north of Seoul and are being gathered into a new post in Pyeongtaek, 56km south of Seoul, near a port and an air base.
Hagel and Kim reaffirmed that the UN Command remained crucial to peace on the Korean Peninsula. In reality, the UN Command has become a paper headquarters left over from UN resolutions adopted in 1950 when the Korean War erupted. It serves only to give the appearance of legality to US — among a few other nations — forces in South Korea.
Asked what would be South Korea’s share of the cost of maintaining US forces in that nation, Kim said that the amount has “yet to be negotiated.”
Hagel said: “We’ll adjust. We are adjusting now. We have to adjust.”
South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported that the US wanted Seoul to pay US$934 million next year, while the South offered US$748 million.
Richard Halloran is a commentator in Hawaii.