Riot police attempt to disperse protesters opposed to the delivery of construction equipment onto a THAAD base in Seongju, central South Korea, on Wednesday. (Yonhap)
SEONGJU -- The Ministry of Defense on Wednesday successfully delivered non-weapon materials and construction equipment onto a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) base here after briefly running into protests from residents and activists opposed to the deployment of the American missile defense system.
Early in the day, a few dozen protesters staged a sit-in and blocked the passage of vehicles heading to the base for the THAAD system in the central town of Seongju, about 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul.
But the stand-off did not last long, and police soon managed to disperse the crowd to make way for around 40 vehicles carrying power generator and construction materials.
Three residents were injured during the process and transferred to a hospital.
The ministry said Tuesday it was planning to move electricity equipment and construction materials there the next day, which it said had "nothing to do with the THAAD battery capabilities."
But protesters suspected that the shipment was a necessary step in improving the battery system.
According to the ministry, two electricity generators were installed in 2017, when the missile shield system was introduced. One of them will be replaced with a new one.
Local residents have long been opposed to the stationing of the battery in their village, citing environmental and other concerns. They have often clashed violently with police as they tried to block new equipment and other supplies from entering the base, forcing the US military to use air transportation to move supplies.
The US base was established in 2017 amid strong opposition from China and North Korea. Seoul and Washington have stressed that the system aims to better cope with the growing missile threats posed by North Korea.
As an integral part of the US-led missile defense system, THAAD is designed to shoot down short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles at a high altitude in their terminal phase, using a hit-to-kill method.(Yonhap)