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Military to raise troops' daily meal cost next month

Defense 12:04 June 03, 2021

By Choi Soo-hyang

SEOUL, June 3 (Yonhap) -- The military will raise the average daily meal cost for service members by 14 percent to 10,000 won (US$9) next month, the defense ministry said Thursday, amid criticism soldiers, especially those under coronavirus quarantine, are poorly fed.

The decision was announced as the government launched an interagency task force to come up with measures to improve troops' living conditions following a series of complaints over inconveniences.

The quality of military meals, in particular, gained attention after active-duty soldiers uploaded photos of their meals on a Facebook page that serves as an anonymous bulletin board for troops, leading to Defense Minister Suh Wook's apology.

The ministry had originally planned to raise the daily meal cost next year, but the push has been advanced "under close coordination with the financial authorities," the ministry said.

Song Young-gil, head of the ruling Democratic Party, speaks during a visit to the 202nd Brigade of the 72nd Infantry Division in Yangju, some 50 kilometers north of Seoul, on May 27, 2021, to inspect military living conditions. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

The current cost per meal for troops is 2,930 won, lower than the average for high school students at 3,625 won.

The government will inject 75 billion won for the raise and provide more meat and processed foods preferred by the troops, it said.

The military will also allow soldiers to order delivery food twice a month from the current four times a year.

In response to complaints over poor living conditions at boot camps, the military said it will begin the renovation of the Korea Army Training Center next year. The center is the largest boot camp in the country.

The 40-member task force, headed by Vice Defense Minister Park Jae-min, includes government officials, professors and nutritionists, as well as military cooks.

"Under a firm understanding to respect and treat our service members as citizens of our society, we will continue to push for related policies for the military to meet the people's expectations and earn their trust," Park said.

Vice Defense Minister Park Jae-min (C) speaks during an interagency task force meeting to improve troops' living conditions at the defense ministry building in Seoul on June 3, 2021, in this photo provided by the ministry. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

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