Defense Ministry Announces Gimcheon as “Final” THAAD Deployment Site

The South Korean Defense Ministry announced today that the Lotte Skyhill golf course in Gimcheon City, North Gyeongsang Province will be the “final site” for the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) THAAD missile defense system. 

Seoul and Washington had originally chosen the Seongsan anti-aircraft missile base in Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province to host the U.S. missile shield. The government’s changed decision comes after two months of staunch and vocal opposition from the residents of Seongju.

Immediately after the government’s announcement on Friday, September 30, approximately one thousand Gimcheon residents gathered outside Gimcheon Station to protest the decision at their 41st nightly candlelight vigil against THAAD deployment. Despite a downpour, even elderly farmers from the town of Nongso, which is merely 1.5 kilometers away from the Lotte Skyhill golf course, donned raincoats and held up their candles. 

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Family and Supporters of Farmer Baek Nam-gi Stand Firmly against Police Warrant for Autopsy

On September 28, over 1,000 supporters of farmer Baek Nam-gi and his family camped out overnight in and around the funeral hall building where Baek’s body is being kept. Upon hearing news of a court decision to grant a warrant for autopsy to South Korea’s National Police Agency (NPA), supporters of the farmer activist prepared to stand their ground against a potential raid by the police. Noticeable tensions arose in the funeral hall building in anticipation of any provocation by the police now free to seize the body of Baek with no legal restriction in its way.

The NPA and the Prosecutor General’s office reapplied for the warrant after being denied previously by the court on September 25. During the reapplication process, the court requested additional documents including an explanation of the purpose and justifications for conducting an autopsy. On the morning of September 28, the Prosecutor General’s office submitted the supplemental documents and in the evening of the same day, the court authorized the police with a “search, seizure, and examination warrant for Baek’s autopsy.”

Even prior to the court’s issuing of the warrant, the family of Baek had come out against the NPA and prosecutors’ pursuit of an autopsy. The family members wrote a letter of petition to the judge asking that the court reject the application for an autopsy warrant. In the letter, the family stated, “We absolutely don’t want the hands of the police that took [our father’s] life to touch his body.”

The family’s position remains unchanged after the court’s decision to issue the warrant. Baek Nam-gi’s daughters, Doraji and Minjuhwa Baek, voiced the family’s disappointment at the court’s decision and stated, “The family absolutely does not want an autopsy.”

It is expected that supporters will continue to stay in the vicinity of the funeral hall in order to protect Baek’s body from being seized by the South Korean police. The autopsy warrant is valid until October 25. The police stated that it will make efforts to consider the position of the family members and come to an agreement with them before attempting to conduct the autopsy. However, Baek’s supporters are preparing for the worst case scenario – police use of force to seize the body against the family’s wishes.

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Featured News & Articles

South and North Korea Prepare to Discuss an End to the Korean War

This article was originally published in The Nation. In less than 12 hours, the leaders of North and South Korea, Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in, will meet at the truce village of Panmunjom for a historic summit that could be the start of ending the Korean War. Leading up to the summit, the US mainstream media chose to seek out the so-called “experts” who have often been wrong about the history of negotiations between North Korea and the United States.

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Weekly News Roundup

USFK and Riot Cops Continue Excessive Force to Deploy THAAD

The residents of Seongju and Gimcheon were caught off guard when the USFK and the South Korean Defense Ministry forced key parts of the THAAD missile system into the former Lotte Skyhill Golf Course in the early morning hours of April 26. The AN/TPY-2 radar is believed to have been transported into the deployment site.

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