Pricing teams will collect data on 113 goods and services in February to determine the cost-of-living allowance for U.S. Forces Korea personnel, USFK commander Gen. B.B. Bell wrote in a message last week.

USFK will send its pricing teams to merchants frequented by servicemembers in Seoul, Pyeongtaek, Daegu, Busan, Chinhae and Osan.

Any change in COLA will be announced in June and implemented in August, Bell wrote.

Between one and three teams composed of two or three people will visit each city, a U.S. Forces Korea spokesman said Tuesday. The teams will include soldiers from the 175th Financial Management Center and 176th Finance Battalion, as well as spouses and native Korean speakers.

Targeted goods and services include groceries, alcohol, transportation, vehicles, child care, clothing and more.

“Because it is a valuable financial entitlement, this command will fight to ensure you receive every penny you are entitled to,” Bell wrote.

The pricing teams will select goods and services based on a 2006 online survey of living patterns. USFK will not conduct an online survey in 2007 because it believes the high participation and accuracy of online surveys from the past three years makes it unnecessary, Bell wrote.

The 175th Financial Management Center will verify data accuracy, Bell wrote.

Servicemembers living in South Korea have received tax-free COLA since 2003.

The won’s strength, particularly against the dollar and the Japanese yen, has South Korean government officials concerned that its economy will slow due to higher prices for its goods in foreign countries.

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