Updated 11:48 PM EDT, Sat, Mar 28, 2020

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South Korea Boosting Defense Budget to Record $38.7 Billion to Confront North Korea and China

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(Photo : ROKN) Haeseong II land-attack cruise missile launch from an Republic of Korea Navy warship.

The Ministry of National Defense of South Korea has proposed a record national defense budget of $38.7 billion for fiscal 2018 to confront the twin threats posed by North Korea and China.

The proposed budget represents an 8.4 percent increase from 2017. It also includes an 11.6 percent increase to $12 billion for accelerating the establishment of the Korea Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) system and the Kill Chain pre-emptive strike program.

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The new funding still pales compared to the 2005 defense budget under former president Roh Moo-hyun that jumped 11.4 percent year-on-year. But it does exceed the proposals of former presidents Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye, each amounting to a five percent increase.

Announced in 2006, KAMD is South Korea's own indigenous missile defense system. It's distinct from the U.S. led regional ballistic missile defense system that includes THAAD, and came in response to North Korea's first nuclear test.

The Kill Chain is a South Korean indigenous missile defense program along with the KAMD system and the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation (KMPR) strategy. Kill Chain is a pre-emptive strike system that targets North Korean missiles before they're launched.

It's the process by which the Republic of Korea Armed Forces (ROKAF) uses its intelligence assets to detect, track, and carry out a precision strike on North Korean targets.

Much of the money in the $38.7 billion for fiscal 2018, however, will be used to increase salaries for rank-and-file soldiers, said the ministry.

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