President Park Geun-hye on Tuesday stepped up her efforts to curb the continuing criticism of the planned deployment of an advanced U.S. anti-missile system to the peninsula, reiterating the crucial security issue must not be politicized.
"Fostering antagonism among citizens through criticism and conflict without (suggesting) any alternatives is like pushing the nation and the people to bear the fallouts of a crisis," Park said during her congratulatory remarks at the ruling Saenuri Party's national convention in Seoul.
"The disputed deployment of THAAD (Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense) is the least (the government) can do to defend the nation and its people, and an inevitable measure to respond to North Korea's nuclear and missile threats."
Since Seoul and Washington announced their decision to station a THAAD battery in the southern county of Seongju by end-2017 last month, opposition politicians and residents of the county have steadfastly called on the government to reconsider.
In particular, the residents in Seongju have opposed the deployment plan, concerned that THAAD's radar could pose health risks and damage their agricultural crops. They also fear that their hometown could become a military target in case of an armed conflict on the peninsula.
Some opposition politicians and scholars have also voiced their opposition, arguing that the deployment would strain ties with China and Russia, which argue that THAAD would undermine regional stability and their security interests.
During her speech, Park also pointed out that some politicians are trapped in an "ideological and partisan" mindset even at a time when the communist country is threatening South Korea by advancing its nuclear and missile capabilities. (Yonhap)