On April 8, approximately 3,500 people from across South Korea gathered in the village of Soseong-ri in Seongju County to protest the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) Anti-Ballistic Missile System in the 2nd National Peace Action. The 1st National Peace Action took place in Soseng-ri on March 18.
As the South Korean Defense Ministry and the United States Forces Korea (USFK) attempt to speed up the THAAD installation, tensions within the village of Soseong-ri, just outside the deployment site, have risen. At the end of March, the villagers had to put their bodies on the line to block construction vehicles from entering the deployment site.
Among the supporters who gathered in Soseongri on April 8 was Kim Min-seong, a middle school student from nearby Gimcheon City. She gave the following speech:
Thank you to all those who made the trip to Soseong-ri to join this peace walk to block the THAAD war machine and guard the peace of this land.
After hanging out with my friends today, I came with my parents to Soseong-ri to add a small step [to this peace walk].
I am a middle school student who lives in a city close to Soseong-ri called Gimcheon. I am a cheerful student. My main concerns are having a lot of nice friends and that the lunch at the school cafeteria is good, and I wish to live in a place without exams.
I don’t really know about the tragedy of war. That is probably why I take for granted the precious peace we enjoy.
Last summer, following the announcement that the THAAD would be coming to Gimcheon, I saw my father and mother go out to Gimcheon Station every night to raise their candlelights and shout, “No THAAD.” I heard grandpas, grandmas, moms with young children and everyone shout, “Go away THAAD, come peace,” because our entire country, not just Seongju and Gimcheon, was on the verge of becoming a battlefield. We even went to Gwanghwamun Plaza in Seoul to shout, “Go away THAAD, come peace.”
Although this is my first time in Soseong-ri, I have come to learn from my dad and my mom and through videos on my cell phone about what has been going on here. I heard how the police and soldiers have been blocking the residents [from going near the deployment site] and monitoring their activities. And in order to bring in the THAAD, [the Defense Ministry] has continued to secretly smuggle in [equipment/materials], sometimes using helicopters. I realized just how cowardly they (Defense Ministry) are. If this were really a weapon necessary to protecting our country, then they would have brought it in confidently and honorably. I don’t understand why they are doing this in this way. They say that the THAAD is being brought in to protect U.S. soldiers in our country from North Korea. If we protect U.S. troops does that automatically mean that our country’s people will be protected? Does it not make sense to do the opposite? If the U.S. troops are here to protect our people, shouldn’t they put their effort into ensuring there is no war and that our people can live peacefully? Instead of bringing in a weapon that our people don’t like, shouldn’t they facilitate dialogue between South and North Korea? Even for a middle school student like myself, it does not make any sense that in the event a North Korean missile flies across our sky, they would only guard U.S. troops.
I know that fighting will only bring about more fighting, and that no fighting of any kind is able to preserve peace. And I believe that everyone here has gathered together because you all understand that too well.
Last night, my mom showed me a video. It was a video filmed by a drone showing police in neon green blocking residents, and behind [the police] was a tent. In the tent, Won Buddhist ministers have been guarding [a road] every day and night since March. Nearby is a back road that leads to Won Buddhism’s sacred site of practice. I understand what a holy pilgrimage is. I read that in the religions of Christianity and Islam, people make pilgrimage to their sacred sites to learn more about the teaching of their religions. A sacred site is a holy place where the teachings of a religion live. So I think it is absurd for the police and soldiers to block people from going there and force the people to spend the night on the cold street as they pray to reclaim their road. If something like this happened in Jerusalem, what kind of condemnation would the people of the world express? It is a terrible act to bring in a war machine into a sacred religious site and for the police and soldiers to block entry.
I believe that because we have the right to live peacefully, we have to preserve peace. And so, even though it may be difficult, I ask all the “peace keepers” here to please protect peace for our people. Please get rid of this nonsensical THAAD that is harassing the helpless grandmas and grandpas, so that Soseong-ri, Seongju, and Gimcheon can be peaceful again and we can make our country a place without war. Please protect peace and ensure that the THAAD decision is rescinded so that the Won Buddhist ministers can come out of the cold tents and pray for peace in a warm temple, and walk the path toward the sacred site with many people as they spread peace. I will also study hard to become a person who preserves the peace of the world.
I applaud you. I love you. Thank you.
This speech was made by middle school student, Kim Min-seong of Gimcheon City. She joined the residents of Soseong-ri and supporters of peace from all across South Korea for the 2nd National Peace Action on April 8.
By ZoominKorea staff
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