U.S. Military Sets Up Key Missile Defense Systems In South Korea
The U.S. military has transferred important parts of an anti missile defense system into an operational position overnight near a site in Seongju, South Korea. The move has met with much anger, particularly from the local residents who are against these joint actions of the American and Korean governments. The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System, or better known as THAAD, was originally scheduled for installation after the South Korean Presidential elections, which are being held on May 9th, allowing the new administration a chance to review the controversial missile system.
This sudden comes at a time when their neighbors to the North, under Kim Jong Un, have been steadily developing and building their own nuclear arsenal. U.S. Senators are also expected to meet today to discuss the growing volatility in the region.
A head of a group of villagers protesting the deployment of the THAAD, Kim Choong Hwan, expressed the frustration they were feeling towards the American government and their own representatives, “The American military is completely ignoring us. We will continue to fight with all means.”
Over 8,000 South Korean police officers and soldiers were apparently deployed to escort the U.S. Military onto a golf course, previously owned by Lotte Co., while a number of angry villagers threw plastic bottles at them. The move started around midnight local time, finishing by 4 A.M.
In a recent poll, it was found that 56.6% of the South Korean population was for delaying the deployment of THAAD.
“The fact that it happened so abruptly when everyone thought it would wait until after the [presidential] elections bothers me, that our defense ministry does not consider the opinion of Korean people important,” student Kang Ha-rim said.
But since the rise of the North Korean threat, officials from both countries, South Korea & the U.S.A., have been pushing for the set up of an anti-missile defense system.
China’s Reaction to THAAD
China, as expected, is continuing to maintain its hostile stance against THAAD, warning of stern retaliation if needed to protect its interests. Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Geng Shuan looked to urge the American and South Korean governments to stop with the deployment, citing that the move would only disrupt the strategic equilibrium currently pervading in the region and would unnecessarily worsen situations in the Korean Peninsula.
The Chinese have already begun to retaliate against South Korea over the last few months, using their economic might as the prime weapon. Chinese citizens, as led by Beijing, have begun to boycott products belonging to the South Korea conglomerate, Lotte Co. On top of that, the Chinese have banned their citizens from travelling to South Korea.
Image Source: AP Photo/ Wong Maye-E