중앙데일리

Chung wants defense cuts to heal divide

Jan 22,2006
Former unification minister and Uri Party chairman contender Chung Dong-young said at a press conference yesterday that if the strength of the army was reduced to 300,000, about half its current size, before the year 2015, the financial resources to settle the social and economic divide could be raised. Mr. Chung was commenting on President Roh Moo-hyun’s New Year’s address last Wednesday, where the topic was presented as a key issue facing the nation.
As the president did not offer specifics regarding how to raise the financial recourses, other than echoing his past stance against tax reductions, the issue has been the object of heated discussion among politicians.
Mr. Chung said, “When a peace regime is set up, the national defense reform plan must be reconsidered.” Mr. Chung was speaking about the National Defense Reform Plan 2020, announced by the Defense Ministry last year. The plan aims to cut the current 680,000-strong military force down to 500,000, accompanied by expanding its power with state-of-the-art technology.
Mr. Chung said if the current armistice agreement becomes a peace treaty, the national defense budget could be reduced, and the money saved could be used to fix social and economic divisions.
Some analysts criticized Mr. Chung’s remarks, saying he was too positive about inter-Korean relations, without considering conservatives’ concerns about North Korea’s military power. They said Mr. Chung’s making the most of his experience in inter-Korean relations would be disadvantageous to his leadership bid.


by Chae Byung-gun


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