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Who needs whom more?

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31.07.2020

By Choi Sung-jin

"Our Armed Forces continue to proudly serve side-by-side with our Korean military counterparts. This ironclad alliance, forged in war and reinforced by a shared love of liberty and deep ties of friendship, is vital to peace and stability in both Asia and the world."

U.S. President Donald Trump said so Monday, proclaiming July 27 as National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day.

If Seoul refuses to pay $1 billion or more for the U.S. Forces Korea this year, however, Trump will likely threaten ― once again ― to withdraw or reduce American troops here. At least that's what many South Koreans think.

Since when has the U.S. used troop cuts to blackmail its ally for more money?

Things were quite different decades ago. "Yankee Go Home" was one of the South Korean activists' favorite slogans throughout the 1980s when general-turned presidents ruled Korea. People thought that the U.S. military closed its eyes to dictators' brutal crackdowns on democracy fighters. That changed after the nation was democratized in the late 1990s.

Ironically, the disappearance of the anti-U.S. chant from the protest scenes coincided with the widening gap in military strength between the two Koreas. In 2020, South Korea is the world's seventh-largest military power against the North's 25th. Because of the nearly 50-times difference in economic size, the South's defense spending is equal to the North's gross domestic product. Yes, the North........

© The Korea Times