A protester clashes with the police during a demonstration against the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in Seongju, South Korea, on Sept. 7, 2017. Seoul's defense ministry said the remaining THAAD elements and other construction equipment would be delivered to the former golf course at Soseong-ri village in Seongju county, North Gyeongsang province within Thursday, and thousands of policemen violently dispersed peace activists and residents living near the site of the THAAD missile defense system. (Xinhua/Yao Qilin)
by Yoo Seungki
SEONGJU, South Korea, Sept. 7 (Xinhua) -- "Go away, violent police. Block THAAD to the end." The slogan echoed through the once peaceful village of Soseong-ri in southeast of South Korea all night until Thursday morning.
Shouting, yelling and screaming never stopped as thousands of policemen violently dispersed peace activists and residents living near the site of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system.
Seoul's defense ministry said the remaining THAAD elements and other construction equipment would be delivered to the former golf course at Soseong-ri village in Seongju county, North Gyeongsang province within Thursday.
The ministry's announcement was made at 5:30 p.m. local time on Wednesday (0830 GMT). The government under President Moon Jae-in had said the further deployment would be notified of the villagers at least a day earlier.
Beginning from midnight, six and a half hours after the announcement, police launched the maneuver to break up the anti-THAAD protesters by force. About 8,000 riot policemen were mobilized to disperse some 400 residents and peace activists, according to local media reports.
The queue of police bus began from a location about 4 km away from the village hall of Soseong-ri, beside which anti-THAAD civilians had taken turns to block the sole entrance to the U.S. missile shield site.
Multiple police checkpoints were set up along the queue to prevent volunteers hoping to join the anti-THAAD sit-in from approaching the village house.
The access road to Soseong-ri, some 2 km away from the village hall, was blockaded with farm machines, passenger cars and trucks. It was aimed to impede the transportation of the remaining THAAD elements to the site.
Right beside the village hall, the two-lane entrance road to the THAAD site was also packed with trucks and vehicles.
One of the trucks at the forefront of the sit-in lines was linked to thick chains, which were hung around the necks of a couple of civilians. If police forcibly removed the truck, they might have been put in danger of death.
During the tussle between police and the protesters, tens of people were injured and taken to a nearby hospital. The vehicles blockading the access road were towed away one by one.
"Please stop just for 30 minutes. There is someone hurt in the head," shouted one of the protesters with an urgent voice. Another said one Soseong-ri granny got hurt on her head.
Violent suppression continued. One granny cried out in front of the wall of policemen, saying with a resentful voice: "How could the president do this to people? Why does (he) make people hurt severely? I cannot live with THAAD."
Soseong-ri was once a tranquil, peaceful village with a population of under 200, mostly those in their 70s and 80s. The village has been transformed into a battlefield, standing at the forefront of fight against the U.S. war weapon.
On April 26, two mobile launchers and other THAAD elements were transported in the middle of night to Soseong-ri under the previous Park Geun-hye government. During the physical clash with the police caused by the nighttime delivery, several protesters were wounded.
One THAAD battery, which Seoul and Washington agreed in July last year to deploy, is composed of six launchers, 48 interceptors, the AN/TPY-2 radar and the fire and control unit.
Policemen thrust and shoved the civilian protesters, driving them into a small yard of the village hall and besieging them from every direction. Eventually, the sit-in protest was dispersed at the dawn of the day.
The nighttime THAAD delivery was made while President Moon Jae-in was on a two-day trip to the Russian city of Vladivostok.
Moon ordered the temporary deployment of the remaining THAAD elements, citing the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s test in late July of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
One anti-THAAD protester shouted: "How could President Moon Jae-in who was elected thanks to a candlelit rally do this? People are being violently suppressed by the police of Moon Jae-in."
Over 10 trucks of the South Korean police passed by the anti-THAAD protesters, who were blocked by a wall of policemen.
It was trailed by trucks of the U.S. forces, believed to carry four THAAD launchers and other THAAD elements such as a power-supplying machine at about 8:10 a.m. Thursday.
The U.S. trucks were covered with a thick cloth. Trucks carrying construction equipment and materials followed the vehicles.
With the construction works and the further deployment, the U.S. anti-missile battery would get into a full operation.
After the passage of the trucks, some wept and shed tears, with others cursing the government. One granny said with tearful eyes that she had "nothing to say about this."