Protesters clash 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)
SEOUL, Sept. 8 (Xinhua) -- Outside the presidential office of South Korea, scores of civilians against the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile interception system gathered on Friday afternoon.
Under an unusually burning sun in early autumn, residents living near the THAAD deployment site, around 300 km southeast of Seoul, held a press conference outside the Blue House together with peace activists who helped fight against the U.S. missile shield for over 400 days.
They harshly criticized the Moon Jae-in government as the remaining THAAD elements were transported Thursday morning to the site after violently suppressing anti-THAAD civilians.
"Villagers and people coming to the village from across the country to block THAAD deployment protested for 18 hours on the road, but the village was completely devastated," they said in a statement.
The violent suppression in the middle of night, mobilizing thousands of policemen, was identical to the quash that occurred at the village under the previous Park Geun-hye government, the statement noted.
On April 26, two mobile launchers and other THAAD elements were delivered in the middle of night to the former golf course at Soseong-ri village in Seongju county, North Gyeongsang province. The nighttime delivery caused a physical clash between anti-THAAD civilians and riot police, leaving scores of people wounded.
President Moon ordered a temporary installation of the remaining THAAD elements in late July, and Seoul's defense ministry announced its plan Wednesday afternoon to carry out the order within Thursday.
As soon as it turned midnight, six and a half hours after the defense ministry's announcement, some 8,000 policemen started to thrust and shove some 400 anti-THAAD civilians who gathered on the road beside the village of Soseong-ri, a single road to the THAAD site.
The civilians launched their protest rally on the road from 2 p.m. Wednesday, and it lasted until four more launchers and other THAAD elements passed by the protesters, who were besieged by a wall of riot policemen, at about 8:10 a.m. Thursday.
Police violently dispersed the protesters. According to an emergency anti-THAAD center at Soseong-ri, at least 50 civilians were wounded and the number must have been higher as many people were treated individually. Yonhap news agency reported that 36 civilians were taken to hospitals for injury.
"People were dragged by the hair, and their clothes were ripped (by the riot police). People were horribly trampled as they were done on April 26," a villager from Soseong-ri told the press conference with a resentful voice.
Kim Jong-hee, a woman from Gimcheon city that borders the Seongju county, said she cast her vote for President Moon in the May 9 election, for which she felt an impulse to cut out her hand as many of the elderly at the village did because of their votes for Moon's predecessor Park Geun-hye who decided to deploy the U.S. missile shield.
Starting from that midnight, she said, the Moon Jae-in government gave up its identity of a democratic government, vowing not to give up her fight against the THAAD until the deployed battery is withdrawn from her home country.
An anti-THAAD activist told reporters that he felt the Moon Jae-in government was the re-launch of the Park Geun-hye government when he went through the violent repression.
The activist said President Moon rejected all of his promises, which he had made on his campaign trail, as worthless, criticizing that Moon betrayed his supporters by deploying the THAAD, one of the most serious "evil acts" committed under the previous government.
When he was a presidential candidate, Moon even insisted on an overall re-examination of the THAAD deployment decision as the U.S. missile shield brings no national interests to his country.
After being elected, President Moon ordered an investigation into any illegality in the decision-making process and stressed the importance for a procedural legitimacy, but he ordered the further deployment without any discussion with the general public and the parliament.
In addition, the order was issued citing rising nuclear and missile threats from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), which tested what it called a hydrogen bomb warhead earlier this month and what it claimed was a ballistic missile with intercontinental capability in July.
"There is no difference from the Park Geun-hye government in claiming that the THAAD deployment was aimed to protect people from North Korea (DPRK)'s nuclear and missile threats," said Park Jung Eun, deputy secretary general at the liberal civic group People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD).
She said people were dumbfounded as the Moon government currently emphasized the need for THAAD in South Korea, expecting heightened military tensions in Northeast Asia with the installation of the U.S. anti-missile system irrelevant to the protection from the DPRK's nuclear and missile threats.
The anti-THAAD civilians said in the statement that "the Moon Jae-in government completed the THAAD installation," which was one of the evil acts committed by the Park Geun-hye government.
After finishing the press conference, the civilians turned back and looked out on Moon's office.
They shouted: "We will never forget that day (of Sept. 7). History will remember Moon Jae-in as a president who betrayed people and selected the United States. We will never stop fighting against THAAD. We will fight to remove THAAD."