Over 2,000 Seongju residents headed to Seoul on July 21 to rally in opposition to the South Korean government and U.S. military’s decision to deploy the THAAD system in their county.
“We (Seongju residents) have come to meet the outside forces,” said the president of the Seongju Farmers’ Committee, Jae-dong Lee. Since the protests by residents began immediately following the announcement of the THAAD deployment to Seongju, conservative news outlets have been releasing false reports about “outside forces” influencing Seongju residents to oppose the deployment.
In response to the rhetoric around “outside forces,” leaders of Seongju residents responded by saying, “The Blue House and the US [decided] to deploy THAAD in Seongju. These are the outside forces that don’t live in Seongju. Today, Seongju residents have come to meet President Park Geun-hye.” Seongju residents were seen wearing blue ribbons during the demonstration on July 21. When asked whether this was to distinguish them from “outside forces,” one Seongju resident replied, “That is nonsense. This ribbon represents our opposition to the THAAD deployment. In the beginning, there was a suggestion that we should wear black ribbons symbolizing the THAAD as a ‘weapon of death.’ But later, more people suggested that we wear blue ribbons that symbolize peace.”
Many residents are concerned that the deployment of the THAAD in their hometown will result in dire consequences for farming in Seongu. In particular, they worry, Korean melon farming, for which Seongju is known, will be difficult to sustain with the radiation emitted by the THAAD’s high-powered radar in close proximity. Despite the pro-government media’s clamor about “outside agitators,” , many in the anti-THAAD struggle have voiced that this issue is not only about Seongju. The majority of people participating in the peaceful protest frame this issue not solely concerning Seongju but the whole Korean Peninsula.
During the demonstration in Seoul, Seongju residents demanded all political parties in the national assembly to officially renounce the THAAD deployment and form a special committee to block the government from fulfilling its unilateral decision to deploy the THAAD system. Additionally, Seongju’s Committee to Stop THAAD plans to collect 100,000 signatures for a petition addressed to the White House. However, as only about 50,000 residents make up Seongju County, the committee will require at least 50,000 more signatures from people outside of Seongju in order to reach the goal 100,000 signatures.
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