Fri, Jul 22, 2016 - Page 6 News List

South Korean president calls for unity for security

Reuters, SEOUL

South Korean President Park Geun-hye yesterday said that the move to deploy a missile defense system was “inevitable” because of a growing threat from North Korea and that division in the South over its deployment is what Pyongyang seeks.

North Korea’s launch of three ballistic missiles on Tuesday was the latest evidence that the anti-missile system is needed, Park said at a South Korean National Security Council meeting.

This month’s announcement by South Korea and the US to deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) unit with the US military in a rural melon-farming county triggered loud protests from residents worried about possible negative health and environmental effects.

“If we continue to be divisive and social confusion grows about a decision we had no choice but to make to protect the country and the lives of our people, it would be exactly where North Korea wants us to go,” Park said, according to her office.

North Korea on Wednesday said it had conducted a ballistic missile test that simulated pre-emptive strikes against South Korean ports and airfields used by the US military, likely referring to the three missiles fired on Tuesday.

Many residents of Seongju, about 200km from Seoul, joined by opposition members of parliament and civic groups, have demanded that the government scrap the decision to site the THAAD battery there.

Some residents bearing South Korean flags and anti-THAAD banners held a rally in central Seoul yesterday to demonstrate against the decision that drew about 2,000 people, according to police and organizers, including the governor of Seongju, who shaved his head in protest.

That followed a raucous standoff last week between residents and the prime minister, who was pelted with eggs and plastic bottles and trapped inside a bus for several hours when he visited the county to explain the THAAD decision.

Some residents blamed outside leftist activists for the incident.

Park said North Korea could stage an act of aggression at any time, including possibly a fifth nuclear test or cyberattack against the networks of national and financial institutions.

The North has also increased military equipment near the land and sea border separating the countries, Park said.

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