As the US military moves quickly to install the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery in South Korea, there are protests by the local citizens. The U.S. Forces Korea moved the mobile launchers and other parts to a former golf course in Seongju by trailers and trucks early in the morning.
All this is occurring during the South Korean presidential election races that will take place in just two weeks. With rising tensions between North Korea and the United States, leading candidate Moon Jae-in stated to reporters, “The THAAD deployment should not be rushed ahead of the presidential election.” The elections will take place May 9th, but world politics are moving at a much faster rate and decisions need to be made.
South Korea mobilized 8,000 police to protect the transportation of the THAAD system, where protesters gathered in the streets to protest. It was reported by the Korea Times that a dozen residents were injured.
Part of the rush to deploy THAAD in the region is due to the upcoming elections. It is reported that the US government is worried that the new South Korean president may oppose such an installation. Ironically, the THAAD system has only been tested in very defined conditions and has not been used in war type events.
The other presidential candidates have differing views on their view of the THAAD deployment.
Ahn Cheol-soo, from the People’s Party, wants the deployment to proceed in accordance with domestic law. Cheol-soo expressed regret over the sudden action in the middle of the night.
Conservative candidates Hong Joon-pyo of the Liberty Korea Party and Yoo Seong-min of Bareun Party are in favor of the deployment and asking the other candidates not to engage in wrangles any more.
Sim Sang-jung of the progressive Justice Party is against the deployment and claims that she will hold the defense ministry responsible.