Shout for 'Stop THAAD' echoes non-stop rally in S. Korean little, peaceful village

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-03-07 17:13

Shout for 'Stop THAAD' echoes non-stop rally in S. Korean little, peaceful village

Photo taken on March 6, 2017 shows a part of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery arriving in South Korea. The photo was provided by the US Forces Korea (USFK). [Xinhua/USFK]

SEONGJU, South Korea - When they heard the news report that Lotte signed a contract with the defense ministry to exchange its golf course for military land, they fell into great panic. The bad feeling lasted for days, making the naive, old farmers wandering what to do.

Lotte International, a unit of Lotte Group, South Korea's fifth-largest family-controlled conglomerate, agreed on Feb 27 to a land swap deal for the US missile defense system - Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD). It was formally signed with the military the following day.

"We wept in each other's arms. Grannies wept sorrowfully, shedding tears over just looking at each other. A couple of days had passed in panic," said Im Soon-bun, head of a women's society in Soseong-ri, a little peaceful village in Seongju county, North Gyeongsang province where the US missile shield is scheduled to be sited.

However, they did not sit idly. The villagers stopped weeping and plucked up courage to fight against THAAD. Im said on Saturday that she planned to participate in candlelit vigils, which were to be held in a nearby city, in an effort to make known the legitimacy of their fight and the seriousness of the issue.

Soseong-ri is just a secluded tranquil village in southeasten South Korea without the installment of THAAD system. But, it will never be possible as the deployment decision turned the peaceful village into the frontline of a battlefield to protest the US anti-missile system.

Along the sole road to the village, it is filled with placards and signposts to express their strong opposition to THAAD, which they depict as offensive weapons. The village hall, in front of which the society chief was interviewed, is surrounded by anti-THAAD placards and the lines of white clothes on which their longing for peace is written.

The entrance road to the golf course, just 2 km away from the village hall, was blocked by a squad of policemen who were waving electronic baton to ban anyone from approaching the THAAD site. Police buses stood along the road, with pairs of policemen patrolling near the check point.

The ingenuous farmers, mostly in their 80s and 90s, always feel anxious and unnerved as they face an overbearing police power for the first time, said Yoon Young-eun, a duty director of the anti-THAAD protest in the village with just 150 people.

To prevent the old-age warriors, almost 1,000 policemen are stationed on duty, blockading the two main roads to the golf course, according to the director.

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