Thousands of protesters marched near the US
embassy in Seoul on Saturday, accusing
President Donald Trump of “forcing” South
Korea to deploy a controversial American
missile defence system opposed by China.
The protest came as South Korea’s new
president Moon Jae-In heads to Washington
next week for his first summit with Trump
amid soaring tensions over Pyongyang’s
Around 4,000 people participated in the
demonstration, the largest since South Korea
and the United States agreed to deploy the
system, known as Terminal High-Altitude Area
Protesters carried placards that read: “Trump
stop forcing (South Korea) to deploy THAAD”
and “No THAAD, No Trump”.
The crowd included residents from the
southeastern county of Seongju where the
system is being deployed who say it poses
health and environmental hazards and argue
that its presence could make them a priority
target for North Korea.
THAAD was approved by Moon’s ousted
predecessor, conservative president Park
Geun-Hye, who then steamrollered the project
through a hasty environmental review during
her last months in office as she became
ensnared in a massive corruption scandal.
The deployment has also been opposed by
Beijing, which fears it could undermine its own
nuclear deterrent and has reacted with fury,
imposing a series of measures seen as
economic retaliation on the South.
Though parts of system are already in place,
Moon this month suspended further
Officially, the delay is to allow for a new,
comprehensive environmental impact
assessment, but analysts say the move is a
strategic delay by Moon to handle the tricky
diplomatic situation he inherited.