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How long will the government tolerate anti-THAAD groups' protests?

How long will the government tolerate anti-THAAD groups' protests?

Posted July. 22, 2017 07:14,   

Updated July. 22, 2017 07:34


The Ministry of National Defense of South Korea cancelled on Friday its plan to verify the safety of electromagnetic waves from the U.S. Thermal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system deployed at Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province after it failed to reach an agreement with local residents amid opposition from anti-THAAD groups. After considering a one-week delay of the test, the ministry has finally decided to scrap the plan with no prospect of the cool-down in sight. The government will receive opinions from local residents, and the test will be rescheduled only when local residents request it.


The test had been designed to be conducted through participation of local residents with an emphasis on worries on THAAD electromagnetic waves. The defense ministry had planned to invite 45 observers, including local county officials, city government officials, residents and reporters, and conduct tests at four different locations near the U.S. base. However, anti-THAAD groups refused the government’s offer by saying, “The ministry is moving forward unilaterally without providing residents with enough time for consideration.” Opponents have been calling for removal of THAAD from South Korea.


Officials of the defense ministry visited a THAAD unit at Guam’s U.S. base in July last year to inspect electromagnetic waves. They recorded 0.0007W//m² of electromagnetic waves at maximum, and this value is only 0.007% of 10W/m², which is the base line for safety set by South Korea’s Communications Commission. It seems that anti-groups have denied the test with concerns over losing their justification once the test shows similar results at Guam. Furthermore, opponents may even consider preventing the government from conducting an environmental impact analysis.


Anti-THAAD groups have branded themselves as they were speaking for local residents at Seongju. However, the defense ministry sees them mostly as left-wing activists. Opponents have blocked the passage to the base in order to prevent delivery of THAAD-related equipment and checked passengers’ identity as if they were in a lawless zone. THAAD is one of the weapon systems capable enough to protect people from North Korea’s missile threat. Does the government deserve to have a national slogan “the nation of the people” when some anti-THAAD activists are committing illegal activities in the face of an ineffective government?