During a visit on Friday, the Pentagon chief also said he wants to see Seoul re-sign an information-sharing pact with Washington’s other close ally in the region, Japan, that is about to expire.
"[South Korea] is a wealthy country and could and should pay more,” Esper said, Presstv Reported.
“It is crucial that we conclude the (defense pact) ... with increased burden-sharing by the Republic of Korea before the end of the year," he continued.
In August US President Donald Trump announced South Korea “has agreed to pay substantially more money” to the United States “to defend itself” from North Korea.
“Over the past many decades, the U.S. has been paid very little by South Korea, but last year, at the request of President Trump, South Korea paid $990,000,000,” Trump wrote on Twitter on August 7.
“Talks have begun to further increase payments to the United States,” he continued in another post. “South Korea is a very wealthy nation that now feels an obligation to contribute to the military defense provided by the United States of America. The relationship between the two countries is a very good one!”
Trump has long complained that the US bears too much of the financial burden for its overseas military deployments and has called on South Korea to pay more for the thousands of American troops deployed there.
The Trump administration of is reportedly seeking up to a fivefold increase in Japan’s spending on American military forces deployed to the Asian country.