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S. Korea lags behind conflict-prone countries in defense budget-GDP ratio: data

All News 14:43 June 13, 2016

SEOUL, June 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korea spends relatively less than other countries facing similar security situations in terms of its defense budget to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio, data showed Monday, as the government is making a case for more money to be allocated to cope with heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

According to the data compiled by the defense ministry for a promotional magazine, South Korea spent US$36.4 billion last year, which was equal to 2.42 percent of its annual GDP.

The ratio stayed relatively lower than other countries at risk of conflict such as Saudi Arabia, Israel and Jordan where the corresponding figures stood at 12.95 percent, 6.22 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively, the data showed.

The ratio was still higher than Taiwan, China and Japan with national defense spending to GDP ratios at 1.98 percent, 1.28 percent and 1 percent.

"For the past five years, investment on national defense remained stagnant despite persistent threats from the North such as the fourth nuclear test and a long-range missile launch, and a stepped-up arms race by Northeast Asian neighbors," the ministry said in the magazine.

Seoul remains technically at war with Pyongyang as the 1950-53 war ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

South Korea's national defense budget has been growing at a slower pace in the last few years. The amount increased 5 percent on-year in 2012 but the growth rate has dipped to 4.9 percent in 2015 and 3.6 percent in 2016.

In terms of the absolute amount of state money spent on defense last year, South Korea ranked 10th in the world but the spending per soldier came to $58,000, the 48th-largest, according to the data.

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