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Title: Korea-U.S. defense cost-sharing deal hasn't dispelled questions about transparency
After a months-long tug-of-war,... South Korea and the United States have finally settled on a new cost-sharing agreement for the stationing of U.S. troops in Korea.
But some are wondering aloud... whether this was the best Seoul could do.
Our Han Da-eun reports. 866-point-6 million U.S. dollars.
That is the amount South Korea will pay this year... to keep the more than 28-thousand U.S. troops on the Korean peninsula.
Seoul's Foreign Ministry says this was a successful deal,... as Washington has settled on an amount that's 75-million dollars less than what it initially wanted -- despite automatic spending cuts known as the sequester that have slashed the military's budget.
But what's more worthy of notice, officials say, is that the U.S. agreed on specific measures to enhance transparency.
Washington had long been criticized by the South Korean public for not revealing how defense costs were spent.
A new monitoring system will be set up that will effectively track shared military expenditures... and the two sides will be required to submit annual spending reports to the Korea-U.S. Integrated Defense Dialogue, better known as KIDD.
The U.S. will also report defense cost outlays on the peninsula... to the Korean Parliament.
"We have made an effort to produce a reasonable outcome that's acceptable to the parliament and the people, taking into account the stationing conditions for the U.S. troops as well as our government's financial capacity."
But some are critical of the deal, saying it has left several long-standing issues unresolved.
They point out that... Washington is not keeping its promise to shoulder the cost of relocating the main U.S. military base from Seoul to Pyeongtaek in 2016.
Instead, they seem to be amassing a large amount of money, and asking for more, but it's not clear how much has gone to the Pyeongtaek relocation.
The deal will be taken to the parliament in early February for ratification.
But amid such divided opinions, it looks like it won't necessarily be smooth sailing.
Han Da-eun, Arirang News.
Title: South Korea's special forces out for winter exercise
Amid the backdrop of tension and uncertainty on the Korean peninsula, South Korea's military has been placing extra emphasis on being combat-ready to face any threat from North Korea.
Our Kim Hyun-bin reports on winter training exercises underway on the outskirts of Korea's Olympic town of Pyeongchang.
"Tensions are high on the Korean peninsula. Last year, North Korea conducted its third nuclear test, continuously threatened to start all-out war and recently, they executed Jang Song-thaek, another sign of the regime's unpredictability."
It goes without saying that maintaining a staunch defense against possible North Korean provocations is one of the Park administration's key goals this year and the remaining years of her term there after.
And the president has made it clear that strengthened national security is very high on her agenda.
To ensure readiness, the Defense Ministry initiated a winter exercise last week in Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do Province, a place well-known for its brutally cold winters, where temperatures regularly plunge below minus 20 degrees Celsius.
"Scores of Special Forces cadets are busy training despite the bone-chillingly cold temperatures. It's a clear display of South Korea's military might and readiness to fight off any attack from the North."
But it's just another day for South Korea's Special Forces.
Whether it's blisteringly hot or numbingly cold, these men are ready to fight and successfully carry out their missions.