Vehicles come and go on the driveway of the THAAD base in Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province, Aug. 16. A banner that reads "No THAAD" hangs right next to the road. (Yonhap)
The Defense Ministry promised more active communication with local residents regarding normalizing the THAAD anti-missile base in Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province, Tuesday.
Col. Moon Hong-sik, deputy spokesperson of the Defense Ministry, said in a regular briefing, "We will sufficiently and actively communicate with local residents. Not only the Defense Ministry, but also the government should make effort to soothe the problem.”
He stressed the importance of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system as “a self-defense measure to protect the lives and safety of the people from North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats.” However, he also emphasized that he understands the position of those who oppose THAAD and will discuss the issues further.
South Korea recently formed a consultative committee to assess the environmental impact of the US THAAD system deployed in Seongju, according to the Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup during a session of the National Assembly’s national defense committee on Monday. The committee was launched on Aug. 19 with a resident representative named by the local administration.
An environmental impact assessment usually takes about a year, but the government plans to shorten the period as much as possible. Only when this procedure is completed, will it be possible to reinforce and expand the base.
The process of providing the THAAD site to the US military is also expected to be completed next month.
However, civic groups remain adamant in their claims that the evaluation council, which was pushed behind closed doors, is invalid. "We express great regret regarding the launch of a consultative committee and urge those who participated as a resident representative to quit," they said in a statement published Tuesday.
By Lee Jung-Youn (firstname.lastname@example.org