U.S. Forces Korea is sending furlough notices to thousands of South Korean workers at U.S. bases in South Korea and about half of the workers are expected to go on unpaid leave starting April 1st.
On Wednesday, the notice by the U.S. Department of the Army said employees will not be allowed to serve as an unpaid volunteer, should stay away from their workplace and are prohibited from performing any work-related duties.
Some four-and-a-half thousand to five-thousand workers are to go on unpaid leave starting April 1st and remain that way for an unknown amount of time.
This comes as Seoul and Washington failed to agree to the Special Measures Agreement for this year, which determines how much Seoul contributes for U.S. forces stationed in South Korea.
The allies met for the latest round of negotiations in Los Angeles last week.
It was the last opportunity to prevent a furlough, but the two sides couldn't see eye to eye.
March 21, 2020
"We strongly proposed first signing a separate deal on wages for South Korean workers, but the U.S. opposed it, saying the process can be further delayed."
The U.S. initially requested 5 billion U.S. dollars, but lowered that to 4 billion -- but that's still four-times more than what Seoul paid last year.
South Korea sees the amount as excessive and is sticking to a roughly 10-percent increase from last year.
March 21, 2020
"We are continuously discussing the amount and reducing the scope of it. The U.S. says we have big differences, but we don't think so. We are talking about some meaningful numbers."
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It's unclear when the next round of negotiations will be held.
Seoul says the two sides will continue their talks through diplomatic channels or personal lines.
Oh Jung-hee, Arirang News.