The South Korean minister for veterans affairs expressed regrets over the public outcry that erupted over the decision to deploy an advanced U.S. anti-missile defense system on the Korean Peninsula.
"I feel very sorry over the controversies caused by the South Korean and U.S. governments' decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system," Minister of Patriots and Veterans Affairs Park Sung-choon said during Korean-American Friendship Night, an annual gathering of former and current diplomats and military servicemen from the two countries.
"But media reports now say public opinion has turned positively towards deployment since the Chuseok (holiday), with the opposition parties reversing their previous stances," Park claimed, referring to the traditional holiday season which fell in mid-September this year.
He then said the deployment is in response to North Korea's military threats like recent long-range missile launches and its fifth nuclear test conducted on Sept. 9.
"South Koreans are well aware that the South Korea-U.S. alliance has deterred North Korea's nuclear as well as conventional military threats while keeping the peace (on the peninsula)," the official noted.
He also expressed gratitude to U.S. President Barack Obama for committing extended deterrence and the nuclear umbrella for the protection of South Korea from the North Korean threats.
With China strongly protesting the THAAD deployment plan, the anti-missile system has been a source of intense political debates and opposition from residents of Seongju, a southern town previously designated to host the missile interceptor system.
The South Korean government is currently in the process of choosing an alternate site for the deployment. (Yonhap)