A South Korean delegation spent Easter Sunday at the White House decrying plans to deploy the THAAD missile system in Seongju County, South Korea. The anti-war activist group also expressed concerns that the deployment marked increased militarism in Asia and in the Pacific, and with it increasing tensions between North and South Korea.
About thirty took place in the peaceful event. It was the last stop in a 9 city tour.
Many South Koreans in Seongju County remain opppsed to the THAAD deployment, according to Rev. Sounghey Kim, co-chair of the Seongju Struggle Committee to Stop THAAD Deployment in South Korea.
The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system is a mobile trailer launched high altitude anti-missile which uses its own Mach +8 speed to destroy incoming ballistic missiles both inside or outside the atmosphere. The Lockheed Martin system was deployed to South Korea to counter the North Korean missile program.
Both China and North Korea have responded strongly to the deployment, which was agreed by the US and South Korean government in July 2016.
Rev. Sounghey Kim, who is Buddhist, expressed worry that deploying the system in Seongju, a primarily agricultural region far south of the border of North Korea, effectively placed the region in the crosshairs of potential conflict.
“Right now in Seongju the residents are fighting to prevent the vehicles from putting THAAD missiles in the deployment site,” said Rev. Sounghey Kim.
Rev. Kim said that she has been with the citizens of Seongju protesting every day since July 2016. They have held candlelight vigils and recently have begun holding prayer vigils and overnight sit-in’s on Jinbat Bridge, which leads to the site of the THAAD deployment. She credited the resistance with taking a four step approach to resisting the deployment.
“First we have to fight with energy, number two we have to fight persistently, number three-joyfully, number four-we have to fight mindful of our health,” said Rev. Kim.
Rev. Kim also said that at first only local residents stood against THAAD but the resistance had spread to other towns in the county. “What we are saying is not only that THAAD should not come to Seongju, [it] should not be deployed anywhere on the Korean Peninsula, anywhere in Asia, and no weapons of war should be deployed anywhere in the world,” said Rev. Kim.
Rev Kim is also scheduled to speak on Monday, April 17, at the United Methodist building, 12 pm to 2 pm, 100 Maryland Ave NE, Washington DC. A free lunch will be provided.