South Korea's defense ministry said Thursday it has requested a record budget of 43.7 trillion won ($38.7 billion) for next year, citing growing threats from North Korea and the need for reforming the South's military under President Moon Jae-in's campaign pledge.
It represents an 8.4 percent increase from 2017.
Much of the budget will be used to raise wages for rank-and-file soldiers, according to the ministry.
Under the budget plan reported to the finance ministry, a sergeant will be paid 405,996 won a month, about 30 percent of the minimum wage, from the current 216,000 won.
The ministry also plans to increase the number of commissioned and noncommissioned officers from 2,198 to 3,089 to prepare for a reduction in that of troops conscripted into the military for mandatory services. All able-bodied South Korean male adults are obliged to serve in the armed forces.
The budget proposal also includes an 11.6 percent hike on-year to 13.6 trillion won on spending for improving the military's firepower, in particular the early establishment of the Korea Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) system and the Kill Chain pre-emptive strike program. (Yonhap)