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South Korea increases defense spending 7 percent

By Jennie Oh
South Korea increases defense spending 7 percent
South Korea increases defense budget for 2018 by 7 percent to counter North Korea's nuclear and missile provocations. File Photo by Yonhap

SEOUL, South Korea, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- South Korea will boost its military budget by 7 percent next year, the biggest yearly increase in nine years.

Amid heightening tensions following North Korea's intercontinental ballistic missile test last week, the National Assembly passed the annual budgetary plan for next year early Wednesday, allocating almost $40 billion to defense spending.

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More than a quarter of the budget will be spent to ramp up defense capabilities against nuclear and missile threats from the North, JoongAng Ilbo reported.

This includes the early development of the South's three-pillar defense system, composed of Kill Chain, the Korea Air and Missile Defense and the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation programs.

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The Kill Chain program aims to launch pre-emptive strikes on North Korea upon detecting an imminent missile attack.

If pre-emptive strikes fail, KAMD would shoot down the missiles before they reach their target, while the KMPR initiative would strike key control facilities and leadership targets in the North with missiles and air raids.

Nearly $4 billion was earmarked for the three-layered system, with $310,000 dedicated to a special mission brigade tasked with eliminating North Korea's leadership in contingent situations. The brigade, composed of 1,000 forces, was officially launched Friday.

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To tackle local provocations from the North, $1.47 billion will be set aside to upgrade 230mm multiple rocket launchers, artillery-detecting radar and security around key facilities among other projects, Newsis reported.

In addition, some $2.68 million will be injected into research and development to acquire state-of-the-art weaponry, an increase of 4.2 percent from this year.

The military will also raise the monthly wage for its soldiers, doubling the rate for army sergeants from $197 to $371 in 2018.

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However, the number of new non-commissioned officers proposed for next year was lowered to 2,470.

The Moon Jae-in administration is pushing for a reform of army personnel by scaling up the country's arms system while reducing the number of troops.

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