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Support for THAAD grows but concerns continue Updated: 2017-09-14 20:03:54 KST


On September 4th, one day after North Korea carried out its sixth nuclear test, South Korea's environment ministry gave the green light to deploy four more THAAD launchers in addition to the two already installed in Seongju earlier this year.
President Moon called it a decision that could no longer be delayed in order to prevent war breaking out on the peninsula.
However, when the launchers were rolled out last week, they were met with resistance.
Residents and civic groups from Seongju and the surrounding regions have long expressed opposition to the deployment.

(SOV )
"Withdraw THAAD and bring in peace "
"Peace agreement, not THAAD agreement "

(Stand-up)
"This a daily candlelight protest being held by local Seongju residents. It's been taking place every day for over 14 months, ever since the THAAD deployment was announced."

Residents initially protested against THAAD, citing concerns that the system's powerful radar would be harmful to people and the environment.
Although the environment ministry has declared the system safe, residents remain skeptical, and they now also question the system's effectiveness, as well as how it affects relations with the North.


"Recent reports say that the radar has no effect, that nothing has been detected, but logically that doesn't make any sense. They say we should be careful of microwave ovens and even cellphones, but not this? It doesn't sound right."


"We've come to believe that THAAD is a weapon that South Korea doesn't need, and one that won't be able to protect us from the North's missiles. Having a greater U.S. military presence in South Korea will only increase the risk of war."

But as North Korea ratchets up its missile tests and nuclear weapons development, public support for THAAD is growing.
A recent poll showed that 80-percent of respondents were in favor of the deployment a significant rise from just three months before when another poll showed the nation split, with approval at only around 50 percent.


"Before THAAD we had no way of intercepting a North Korean ballistic missile. The one battery in Seongju cannot protect all of Korea, but it will be very effective in the 150 kilometer radius. If we can secure additional means to protect Seoul and the western areas, we should be able to withstand at least one wave of nuclear strikes."

However other repercussions have some questioning whether it's been worth it.
There are concerns that THAAD will only serve to drive a bigger wedge between the two Korea's.

It has also had a devastating effect on relations between South Korea and China.
Beijing has long opposed THAAD, concerned with the geopolitical implications of powerful U.S. military hardware so close to its borders. In retaliation, Chinese authorities have imposed unofficial economic sanctions on South Korea, costing billions of dollars in industries ranging from tourism to cosmetics and agriculture.


North Korea's foreign strategy is to disrupt the relationship between South Korea, the U.S. and China. The Moon administration's decision to deploy THAAD might have somewhat strengthened the Korea-U.S. alliance, but the relationship with China has broken down, and has also increased conflict between the U.S. and China. I would say 70-percent of North Korea's strategy has been achieved through this action.

But with the full THAAD battery now having been deployed and operational, the South Korean government have made their bed and will have to deal with the consequences.

(Stand-up)
"Behind me is the entrance to golf course where the THAAD battery has been deployed. The Moon administration has assured that it is a temporary measure, but with tensions between the two Korea's heightening, no end date is in sight. And whatever security it does provide, its political implications, home and abroad, means while it remains here it will continue to be a hot button issue.
Kwon Jang-ho, Arirang News, Seongju."
Reporter : kwon@arirang.com
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