[Reportage] Seongju residents resist arrival of THAAD components in their community

Posted on : 2017-04-27 16:42 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Locals decry unexpected mobilization of missile defense system with no effort made to gain their consent
Local residents cry while protesting the deployment of the THAAD missile defense system in Seongju
Local residents cry while protesting the deployment of the THAAD missile defense system in Seongju

“It was so embarrassing to see the smiling faces of those American bastards,” said Park Hee-ju, 48, an independent member of the Gimcheon city council, as tears streamed down his face.

Park was standing before a group of locals on the street in front of the Soseong Village Community Center in Chojeon Township, Seongju County, North Gyeongsang Province, around 5 pm on Apr. 26. As the co-chair of the Gimcheon Civic Action Committee Against the THAAD Deployment, Park had been trying to stop trailers carrying the THAAD X-band radar and launchers from entering the former site of the Lotte Sky Hill Seongju Country Club early that morning when he was detained for interfering with the execution of public duties. After being questioned at the Gumi Police Department, Park was released around 4 pm, at which point he headed straight to Soseong Village to attend the rally against THAAD.

“We have to keep living in this filthy world, but isn’t it our duty to enable our children to live in a country they can be proud of, and not ashamed of? We need to work up our courage once again to drive THAAD out,” Park told locals as he wept.

“We fought for eight months, and it only took five minutes for all 26 vehicles carrying the THAAD components to enter the site,” Park said during an interview with the Hankyoreh after the rally. “When I saw this American soldier who was driving one of the trailers flashing his teeth in a smile, I was enraged.”

In two separate deliveries at 4:43 am and 6:50 am on Apr. 26, USFK brought trailers onto the Seongju golf course carrying key THAAD components, including X-band radar and launchers. During the first delivery, the road leading to the course in front of the Soseong village center was blocked by around 40 Won-Buddhist monks, Catholic priests, and residents, who were forcibly dispersed by police. During the second, around 80 were pushed aside to the community center’s front lawn by police to make way as the trailers headed up. The deliveries reportedly included the last of the key THAAD components being brought onto the golf course.

Police had begun cordoning off all roads to Soseong Village around midnight the previous day. Word of their unusual actions spread among locals. Residents of Gimcheon and Seongju tried to travel to Soseong, but were blocked by police at every turn. The police said a total of 4,000 forces were dispatched that day, but locals claimed a far greater number of police around the village. Ten or so residents were injured during clashes with the police.

“It was heart-rending to see the trucks carrying THAAD components passing right by us after we‘d been dragged out by police,” said Im Soon-boon, the 63-year-old head of the Soseong village women’s association.

“How can the South Korean police trample all over their own country‘s people for another country’s sake? I‘m furious,” Im added tearfully.

At a press conference in the Soseong village community center courtyard at 9 am that morning, residents blasted the actions of USFK and the South Korean Ministry of National Defense and police.

“The THAAD deployment is a violation of the law, carried out without any written agreement between South Korea and the US and without any resident consent or National Assembly discussions,” said Seongju resident Park Su-gyu, 54.

“We demand its immediate removal, and we denounce the South Korean and US governments for exploiting national security for political ends by locking in THAAD before the presidential election,” Park said.

At 2 pm, anti-THAAD demonstrations were held on the road in front of the village community center by the Seongju Committee Fighting for Withdrawal of the THAAD Deployment, the Gimcheon Citizen Countermeasures Committee against the THAAD Deployment, and the Won-Buddhist Emergency Committee to Guard the Sacred Site at Seongju. The demonstrators went on to march as far as 100 meters before the golf course. A candlelight demonstration was held at the same location at 8 pm.

“Is the US really a friend when it deploys THAAD like a thief in the night during a presidential election? Or is South Korea a US colony?” asked Kim Chung-hwan, the 57-year-old co-chair of the Seongju Committee.

“Right now we don’t even have a president to take responsibility for foreign affairs and national security. We could just put the THAAD deployment issue off until after the election,” Kim said. “I can‘t understand why the Ministry of National Defense is leading the charge to sell out its own country.”

By Kim Il-woo, Daegu correspondent in Seongju

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]


button that move to original korean article (클릭시 원문으로 이동하는 버튼)

Related stories

Most viewed articles