South Korea Announces Salary Hike for Front-line Military Officers and NCOs by 2027

SEOUL - In a major move to improve the working conditions of its military personnel, South Korea has announced plans to increase the annual salaries of junior officers and non-commissioned officers (NCOs) stationed at border units by up to 30 percent by 2027. This initiative is part of the defense ministry's broader effort to address concerns over the workload and compensation of military staff.

According to Yonhap News Agency, a new staff sergeant at a front-line unit will see their salary rise to 49 million won (approximately $37,190) in 2027, marking a 28 percent increase from this year. Similarly, the annual pay of a new second lieutenant at a border unit will escalate to 49.9 million won by 2027, a 30 percent hike from current levels.

For personnel in standard units behind the front lines, the pay scale will also see a significant rise. A staff sergeant's annual salary will grow to 37.6 million won by 2027, up 14 percent, while a second lieutenant can expect a 15 percent increase to 39.1 million won.

This announcement follows recent concerns over the attrition of junior officers and NCOs, who have been leaving the military due to excessive workloads and comparatively low pay. Defense Minister Shin Won-sik, who assumed office in October, has emphasized the need for better working conditions to boost morale within the ranks.

Additionally, the ministry is set to increase the pay of conscripts. By 2025, a sergeant's monthly salary will reach 1.5 million won, up from 1 million won this year. Remarkably, if a soldier enlists in 2025 and saves 550,000 won per month during their 18-month service, they can accumulate 20 million won upon discharge. This sum includes a 100 percent government match on the soldier's contributions and an annual interest rate of 5 percent.

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