The U.S. Solidarity Peace Delegation -- in South Korea this week to build solidarity with the peace/anti-war movement there -- visited the village of Soseong-ri in Seongju County from July 24 to 27 to support the villagers in their fight to stop the deployment of the U.S. THAAD anti-missile system there.
The delegation -- Jill Stein of the Green Party, Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK, Reece Chenault of US Labor against War, and Will Griffin of Veterans for Peace -- heard from the villagers of Soseong-ri about their year-long anti-THAAD struggle. “Our children no longer want to come here. If the THAAD comes, the water will go bad, the air will be bad,” said an elderly farmer.
“Will the THAAD protect us? No, it won’t. If the THAAD comes, we think it will be war,” said another grandmother, who worried that the THAAD will only make Soseong-ri and Seongju a target in the crossfire between the United States and its opponents in the region.
The delegation -- organized by the Task Force to Stop THAAD in Korea and Militarism in the Asia Pacific's (STIK) -- asked the residents to send a message to CEO Marillyn Hewson of Lockheed Martin, the leading U.S. weapons manufacturer. “You are also a mother. Stop making weapons of destruction and contribute to making peace,” they said.
Watch the video to hear their full message to Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson:
The delegation also participated in an anti-THAAD rally in Seongju, where the local residents displayed a model of the U.S. THAAD battery then proceeded to smash it as a demonstration of their disapproval of the war weapon.
Major parts of the THAAD battery, including two out of six interceptor missile launchers and the radar used for detecting missile activity, have already been installed in Seongju. But the deployment has been put on halt by the Moon Jae-in administration for an environmental impact assessment. The South Korean government officially announced on July 28 that the former golf course, now-turned THAAD deployment site, will go through a proper, full-scale environmental impact assessment, which could take -- and hence delay the deployment for -- up to a year. Previously, the administration of the impeached, and now-jailed, Park Geun-hye had conducted a small-scale environmental impact assessment as a matter of formality in order to rush the deployment process.
It was the resilience of Seongju and Gimcheon residents, who waged daily and weekly protests to oppose the THAAD deployment, that pushed the current Moon administration to pause the deployment process. They may finally have won some room to breathe and figure out their next move to persuade the South Korean government to rethink and reverse the THAAD agreement altogether.