South Korea cuts troops

The Republic of Korea Army (RoKA) confirmed in a report presented to South Korea’s National Assembly on October 11 that it plans to reduce the number of active military personnel by about 100,000 to 365,000 by 2022 as part of defense reforms aimed at creating a smaller and more technologically advanced military.

Seoul, a key Washington ally, conscripts men for two years of service to defend the country from the nuclear-armed North and its much larger army, which invaded the South in 1950 backed by communist allies China and the Soviet Union.

The war ended three years later in an armistice, not a peace treaty, leaving the South and North technically at war and the peninsula divided along the Demilitarized Zone.

Citing forecast data from Statistics Korea, the Yonhap News Agency external link reported on the same day that one of the reasons behind the move is that South Korea’s low birth-rate is likely to lead to a decrease in the number of male citizens in their 20s to less than 250,000 after 2022, compared with about 350,000 in 2018.