Tensions are running high near a former golf course in Seongju, South Korea, as news reached anti-THAAD activists that four additional launchers of the U.S. missile defense system are to be deployed early Thursday.
More than 300 activists from Seongju and nearby Gimcheon city were outside the THAAD site, in what they say is their 41st assembly demanding the removal of all THAAD launchers, News 1 reported Wednesday.
“We were hoping to resolve the issue through peaceful means, and without fighting, but all have ended in failure,” the activists said. “There is only one solution, to block” incoming launchers.
The activists also expressed fear of “clashing with a gigantic police force.”
“We are nervous and frightened, but we will fight to the end and win,” said activists, many of them senior citizens and long-term rural residents of North Gyeongsang Province.
Local newspaper Kukmin Ilbo reported Wednesday a total of six civic groups opposing THAAD have gathered, and the usual force of 200 conscripted police have been replaced by 360 regular police officers.
The new law enforcement officers arrived in 12 buses, a move that could mean more police could be mobilized ahead of the deployment of four additional THAAD launchers.
Seoul may deploy as many as 8,000 officers in order to “minimize physical clashes with people who opposed THAAD.”
A Korean Buddhist sect said Tuesday the government decision to place more missile defense in the area should be condemned and “violates the right to life and religion” of the residents, according to the Kukmin.
By Elizabeth Shim