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S. Korea voices regret over furloughs for USFK workers, vows supportive measures

All News 14:26 April 01, 2020

By Oh Seok-min

SEOUL, April 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea expressed regret Wednesday after U.S. Forces Korea put thousands of South Korean employees on indefinite furloughs, vowing to come up with diverse measures, including extending loans, to help support the workers.

About 4,500-5,000 employees were forced to go on unpaid leave starting Wednesday as Seoul and Washington have failed to work out a new Special Measures Agreement (SMA) that covers wages of South Korean employees and other costs of the upkeep of about 28,500 U.S. troops stationed here.

"We express regrets over the furlough, which came as our government has suggested a variety of measures, including the execution of a budget to address the wage issue first, based upon the notion that the furlough does not help the combined defense posture," defense ministry spokesperson Choi Hyun-soo said.

In order to minimize its impact on the livelihoods of the workers, the government will push to enact a special law at an early date and to grant loans, according to the official.

"The ministry will continue to work closely with the U.S. Department of Defense and USFK to prevent the current situation from affecting the joint posture," Choi added.

Unionized Korean workers for the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) hold a protest over indefinite furloughs for about half of some 9,000 workers in front of the main gate of Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul, on April 1, 2020. (Yonhap)

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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