An editorial in The Korean Times on Thursday accused the US of delivering an “ultimatum” to Seoul.
Pointing out that Washington had not previously requested such a sharp increase in Seoul’s contributions, the paper said, “The demand is excessive”.
“More serious is that the Trump administration is trying to use the South Korea-US Mutual Defence Treaty as leverage to force its ally to shoulder well over half the total costs”.
Ambassador Harris’ demand “might sound like blackmail or a threat to scrap the mutual defence pact unless Seoul accepts the US demand”, it added.
President Trump has a track record of “setting the bar very high” in international discussions on trade and security, said Stephen Nagy, a senior associate professor of international relations at Tokyo’s International Christian University.
“There seems to be a huge gap in Mr Trump’s understanding of just what these funds are spent on, but I am sure that the national security establishment will understand that it is much cheaper to take on this burden than to have a conflict on the Korean Peninsula,” he said.
Progress in the discussions will be closely watched by Japan and the other member states of NATO, he said, as Mr Trump has also accused those allies of failing to pay for their own defence while simultaneously taking economic advantage of the US.