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Spotlight: South Korean people, religious figures shout 'THAAD Out, Peace In'

By Yoo Seungki (Xinhua)    08:26, April 28, 2017

Protesters pray for peace during a demonstration against the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in Seoul, South Korea, on April 27, 2017. South Korean people and religious figures gathered in central Seoul, where millions of people had demanded the impeachment of former President Park Geun-hye, for the removal of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) from their territory and bring peace to the Korean Peninsula. (Xinhua/Yao Qilin)

SEOUL, April 27 -- South Korean people and religious figures gathered in central Seoul, where millions of people had demanded the impeachment of former President Park Geun-hye, for the removal of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) from their territory and bring peace to the Korean Peninsula.

Religious figures, including Buddhist monks, Roman Catholic fathers and Protestant ministers, participated in the Won Buddhist service that was held Thursday afternoon at the Gwanghwamun square.

Scores of ordinary people voluntarily attended the service to pray for peace in their soil by throwing away the U.S. missile shield that was deployed in defiance of people's will and oppositions from the political arena.

Overcoming the religious differences, all the participants hoped in unison for the removal of what they called the "war weapon" as THAAD fuels arms race and escalates tensions on the peninsula.

"Situations got worse as THAAD was deployed yesterday," said a 37-year-old housewife who joined the peaceful event. She identified herself only with her surname Kim, saying she has two sons and a daughter.

Asked about the reason for her participation, she replied it was for the future of her children and for the future of South Korea that does only demand peace, not war.

"(South) Korea does not require THAAD. It was deployed without any public consensus. People only want peace," said the woman.

Early Wednesday, some 20 trucks and trailers of U.S. forces carried part of THAAD elements to a golf course at a tiny, peaceful village, called Soseong-ri in the northern part of Seongju county, South Gyeongsang province.

Some 8,000 South Korean policemen violently shoved and thrust about 200 villagers and peace activists, who had stood sentry or hurriedly arrived to the scene to block the entrance road to the golf course.

The golf course, which Lotte Group had owned, was swapped for military land in late February to be used as the THAAD deployment site.

Two mobile launchers, the AN/TPY-2 radar, the fire and control unit and other equipments were transported to the site, according to local media reports. A THAAD battery is composed of six mobile launchers, 48 interceptors, the radar and the fire and control unit.

Seoul's defense ministry said an initial operation of the THAAD could be secured by connecting the radar, part of the launchers and the fire and control unit.

One of the U.S. soldiers on the trucks, which entered the golf course, was smilingly recording a video with his smartphone to film the residents and peace activists who were violently suppressed, a footage of local cable news channel JTBC showed Thursday.

Villagers of the Soseong-ri, which has a population of about 160, are mostly in their 70s or older. After the tussle with policemen, six residents were taken to a nearby hospital among 10 wounded.

The 37-year-old woman who was interviewed by Xinhua at the Gwanghwamun square said she got to know what THAAD is and why it is not necessary in her country as she joined the candlelit rallies, which had been held every Saturday night until former President Park was impeached on March 10 and arrested three weeks later.

Three of Won Buddhist monks planned to stage a hunger strike at the square from Thursday. It will last until the THAAD deployment decision is reversed, one of the organizers of the service said.

The organizers have held the service at the square for about an hour since last Friday. It will also continue till the THAAD system is removed from South Korea.

Local civic group Tongil Korea has staged a protest rally outside the U.S. embassy in Seoul for three weeks to call for the reversal of the THAAD deployment decision. The embassy is located beside the square.

Jung Wang-cheal, a member of the advocacy group, carried a placard that read "Withdraw THAAD interrupting an inter-Korean dialogue." He attended the Won Buddhist service at the square.

"(South) Korea does not need THAAD, which has yet to prove its capability," said Jung who passionately explained his organization which advocates a peaceful reunification with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

He said the denuclearized Korean Peninsula, the advent of peace regime on the peninsula and the reunification of the two Koreas would be hampered by the THAAD deployment as it turns Northeast Asia into a powder keg.

THAAD in South Korea has been strongly opposed by regional countries, including China and Russia, as it breaks strategic balance in the region.

The U.S. missile shield can bring more nuclear missiles in the region that can break through missile shields. It can be likened to a fight between spear and shield.

THAAD's radar can peer deep into the territories of China and Russia, damaging security interests of the countries.

THAAD is designed to shoot down incoming missile at an altitude of 40-150 km. Most of DPRK missiles targeting South Korea fly at an altitude of less than 40 km.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Du Mingming, Wu Chengliang)

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