Anchor: The National Assembly passed the fiscal 2018 budget bill amid strong protest from the main opposition Liberty Korea Party early Wednesday. The 428-trillion-won budget was approved in a plenary session about 30 minutes after midnight, four days after the legal deadline for its passage. It is 137 billion won less than the initial proposal submitted by the government.
Our Bae Joo-yon analyzes the defense portion of the budget, which increased seven percent and represents the biggest hike in nine years.
Report: South Korea will raise its military budget to 43-point-two trillion won, or almost 40 billion dollars, next year.
The budget plan, approved by the National Assembly on Wednesday, represents a seven percent on-year hike, the biggest since 2009.
The increase is attributed to heightened missile and nuclear threats from North Korea and the need to support the Moon Jae-in administration's campaign to beef up the country's defense capabilities against the North.
For the first time, funds have been earmarked for a special mission brigade that is tasked with eliminating North Korea’s leadership in the event of contingency.
According to the Defense Ministry, next year's budget includes 340 million won to strengthen the special brigade's capability.
The brigade, made up of some one-thousand forces, officially launched operations last Friday.
It is considered to be a key asset of the country’s three-pillar defense capacity consisting of the “Kill Chain” preemptive strike system, the Korean Air and Missile Defense(KAMD) system and the Korean Massive Punishment and Retaliation(KMPR) plan.
The ministry is expected to use the allocated budget to help introduce equipment to the brigade, such as submachine guns, automatic grenade launchers, suicide combat unmanned air vehicles and unmanned reconnaissance planes.
The ministry says it will increase the budget for the brigade once it begins operations in earnest.
Bae Joo-yon, KBS World Radio News.