Gen. Paik Sun Yeop and more than 500 Former Defense Ministers and Generals initiated national fund-raising to pay USFK defense costs(SMA)!
Dong Yon Kim N.Korea Analyst
General Paik Sun Yeop is the symbol of ROK-US alliance and Korean War Hero. November 21st, 2018 was Gen. Paik’s 99 years old birthday. There were Harry Harris US Ambassador to Seoul, who is a former US Navy Admiral and the Commander of US Indo-Pacific fleet, and the South Korea’s Defense Secretary Jung Kyeong-doo to celebrate Paik’s birth day. Despite the old age, General Paik Sun Yeop goes to the war memorial office every day. His birthday was also held at the war memorial. The 99-year-old veteran went to the seminar room of the war memorial, the peace hall, immediately after his birthday party was over. On the same day, there were many stars of the South Korea. About 500 former South Korea’s generals gathered. All of them are gathered because they cannot observe the national crisis anymore. Gen. Paik is the leader of this group.
South Korea faces National Defense Crisis after the Inter-Korea Summit
The national crisis that is currently underway in South Korea’s appeasement policy towards North Korea. These former generals are the experts in the military field, more than anyone, have expressed concern that the contents of the Inter-Korean military agreement reached on September 19, 2018 were wrong.
At that time, the meeting was originally the place where former generals invited active defense officials from the South Korea (Republic of Korea) government. In other words, former generals were trying to inform the active generals about the problems of the current Inter-Korean military agreement. And the former generals were asking the active generals why they approved the Inter-Korean military agreement that are favorable to North Korea. Surprisingly, none of the active Defense officials of the Ministry of National Defense (DoD) came out. Defense Ministry did not even answer the official invitation sent by former generals. Because of this, the debate seminar at the time was originally planned as Q&A sessions between the active and former officers, but it could not proceed properly. Instead, former generals made a public announcement about what was wrong with the Inter-Korean military agreement in detail.
South Korea dismantled ISR and military readiness
One of the main speaker of the event was Shin Won-sik Former Army Lt. Gen., Operation Chief of Joint Chief of Staff pointed out many of problems. One of them is about the new no fly zone policy under Inter-Korean Military Agreement. Currently, South Korea’s Reconnaissance assets, RC-800, and RC-7 are capable of collect information near MDL (military demarcation line). Its optimum collection range is between 10~20km away from the MDL. However, the new agreement prohibits any air assets’ flight within 10km to 40km of MDL. Therefore, any South Korean Reconnaissance assets cannot foresee and detect the North Korea’s military buildup near the border.
There are more problems which Shin pointed out. The newly produced agreement bans the launch of South Korea’s K-9 self-propelled artillery tanks, the main fire power of the South Korean Marine Corps deployed around the border in the west coast. New agreement required the K-9 to cover its muzzle with white cloth all the time, and the entire K-9 tanks should be covered with tents. If there is an engagement between the two Koreas in case of emergency, the marines will need at least five minutes to uncover the tent and the muzzle.
Not to long ago, in 2010, North Korea carried out a surprise attack on Yeonpyeong Island (YP-do) where marines were deployed. North Korea’s provocation took place shortly after South Korea marines’ K-9 artillery shooting exercise. North Korea was aiming for this specific timing because they believed that most of the shells would have been exhausted by fire training. It shows how much North Korea is capable and cunning in terms of military tactics. At that time, our Marine Corps responded to the provocation of North Korea by launching K-9 self-propelled artilleries within three minutes. If the Marine Corps did not respond quickly, South Korea’s damage would have been greater. Despite these unforgettable precedents, this agreement essentially blocked the ways of South Korea’s military response in case of emergency. As a result, the Inter-Korean military agreements have lost Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities of South Korea and have degraded the military preparedness against North Korea.
$54 billion (USD) VS $88 million (USD)
This same group, Former South Korean defense ministers and more than 500 military generals will form a group called the Former Generals’ Protection for Republic of Korea (tentative name) to go on collective action against the current government’s security policy and the delayed payment for the US Forces Korea (USFK).
The group will hold an inauguration ceremony on the 30th of January at the Korea Press Center in Seoul, Korea. A group will again lead by the Korean War Hero, Gen. Paik Sun Yeop. Not only Gen. Paik but also former Secretary of Defense, Kim Tae-young and many other former military high officials will join the event.
A Group raised serious problems with the current Moon Jae-in administration’s delay of payment for the USFK defense budget which officially known as special measures agreement (SMA). In particular, the current Moon’s administration have collected unprecedented taxes from its citizens. Kim Sun-taek, chairman of the South Korea Taxpayers’ Federation in an interview with the ChosunIlbo said that the Korean government has now taxed more than 60 trillion won (KRW) in taxes which is equivalent to about $54 billion USD. Currently, the defense fee that Korea has not paid to the US is known as about 983 billion won (KRW), which is equivalent to about 88 million dollars (USD). This cost is very small compared to the tax that Korea accumulated.
Nonetheless, Moon Jae-in administration is confronting the US government without paying USFK stationary budget. If this situation continues, the USFK will withdraw from the Korean peninsula in the worst case. Such withdrawal is what North Korea wanted for decades, ever since the beginning of North Korea from their first leader, Kim Il-song. Once the USFK withdraws, South Korea’s military readiness cannot defeat nor deter North Korea’s attack. General Shin Won-sik in the Pen N Mike interview said that most of the USFK forces currently in South Korea are not combat troops but administrative troops. The United States has withdrawn its combat troops in Korea over the past several years.
If the withdrawal of such combat forces continues, it could pose a threat to the security of South Korea as well as Northeast Asia. In the midst of this desperation crisis, the former generals of South Korea came off their feet. Since the S.Korean government does not pay the defense cost for the USFK, the generals are trying to get ahead of the national defense fund raising for the USFK. However, the Korean government is now stating that such fundraising is illegal.
Originally, the South Korean government must pay the defense cost directly to the United States but the government is not doing it. If the South Korean government paid the fee, it would not have been necessary for the people to raise voluntary fund. South Korea is continuing to take time as an excuse that Trump will raise the defense fee. This is interpreted only because the current South Korea administration’s pro-North Korean policy is aligned with North Korea’s desired USFK withdrawal policy.
A lesson of Korean IMF recovery through voluntary fund raising
If the South Korean government does not pay US Forces Korea defense money in the near future, the national fund raising will begin with former generals. South Korea has already undergone IMF (International Monetary Fund) in the late ’90s. As the bubble of the economy broke, South Korea faced an economic crisis. At the time, economists around the world predicted that Korea would not be able to get out of the IMF in a short period of time. However, the people of South Korea voluntarily raised and donated their gold. As the currency value of South Korea collapsed, the people collected gold which value was relatively high and stable. As a result of this voluntary Gold raising national campaign, S.Korea quickly broke the unfortunate predictions of all business people and quickly escaped the IMF.
The people of South Korea who had this precedent, were all together and shared the burden in the national crisis. Therefore the national defense fund raising will also be successfully promoted. This promotion of fund raising shows how sincerely South Korea treats the United States and how much they want the USFK to continuously reside in the peninsula. Obviously this voluntary campaign makes the US to reconsider any possibility of withdrawing US forces.