SEOUL, May 12 (Xinhua) — Residents living near a site, where the previous South Korean government had sought to deploy the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system, hailed the ruling Minjoo Party’s push for the parliamentary hearing and ratification on THAAD.
“We welcome the party’s push for a parliamentary hearing. We demanded the Minjoo Party’s such activity to stop the THAAD installation even before the presidential election,” Park Soo-kyu, a Seongju resident, said via phone on Friday.
Earlier in the day, three lawmakers of the Minjoo Party’s special committee on THAAD told a press conference in the National Assembly building that they will proceed with the hearings to resolve suspicions over the legitimacy, the illegal transportation and the cost payment surrounding the U.S. missile shield installation.
The lawmakers indicated a separate push for a parliamentary ratification on THAAD, which President Moon Jae-in repeatedly mentioned the need for on his campaign trail.
“Soseong-ri villagers and those who are fighting against THAAD in Seongju together with residents welcome the election of President Moon Jae-in and are watching the new government’s moves with expectations,” the resident said.
South Korea and the United States agreed in July last year to deploy one THAAD battery in Seongju county in the country’s southeastern region. The site was altered in September into a golf course at Soseong-ri village located in the county’s northernmost area.
Lotte Group, South Korea’s fifth-biggest conglomerate which had owned the golf course, signed a deal with the defense ministry in late February to exchange the golf course for military land near Seoul.
It accelerated the THAAD deployment process. Part of the THAAD battery, including radar, was transported in the middle of the night to the site on April 26.
The THAAD elements, installed on the day, were two mobile launchers, the AN/TPY-2 radar and other equipments. One THAAD battery is composed of six mobile launchers, 48 interceptors, the radar and the fire and control unit.
During the transportation, violent tussles happened between residents and police officers, leading many residents, mostly in their 70s or older, to be wounded and conducted away.
U.S. President Donald Trump said South Korea should pay for the THAAD, which would be installed in the country, and he estimated the cost at 1 billion U.S. dollars.
Trump’s comments caused strong public oppositions as the previous government claimed South Korea’s provision of land in return for the deployment and operation that the United States bears the burden for.
Attempts were made in early May to deliver crude oil to the deployment site, but those ended up in failure as the residents and peace activists, who have taken turns to stand sentry right beside the entrance road, blocked them.
Since early May, there have been no moves found to carry other equipments to the THAAD deployment site, said Park, the Seongju resident.
On Thursday, residents and peace activists filed accusations with the prosecution office against key figures under the Park Geun-hye government, who pushed for the deployment, for multiple charges including abuse of power.