South Koreans have held a rally for the 10th consecutive night to protest the deployment of an advanced US missile system which has become a lightening rod for new tensions in the region.
Residents in the rural town of Seongju rallied in front of the government building overnight to condemn the choice of their county for the so-called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system.
Residents of Seongju have been rallying every night since the government chose the county, about 217 kilometers southeast of the capital Seoul, for the site of deployment on July 13.
The system will be installed by the end of next year to defend the country against nuclear and missile threats from North Korea as South Korea and the United States claim.
China and Russia say the system would threaten security, stability, and peace on the Korean Peninsula and do nothing to help denuclearize the volatile region.
Moscow and Beijing view the planned move as an attempt to put their military facilities within the range of US radars.
The announcement of the system deployment has also angered North Korea, which has threatened to take “physical action” in response to the decision.
Tensions have already been running high between North Korea which carried out its fourth nuclear test in January and the US and South Korea which have stepped up their military exercises in the region.
Hundreds of residents attended the Sunday night rally, expressing their opposition to the deployment of THAAD in speeches, choreography, songs, and performances.
One protester said the deployment will not only worsen the relations between the South and North but also “negatively affect the situation in Northeast Asia, and push South Korea to the brink of war.”
“If THADD is deployed in Seongju, there will be US forces. I have heard about the scandals involving US troops in other countries, so as a mother with daughters, I am deeply worried and strongly oppose THAAD,” another demonstrator said.
The protesters said that they would continue with the demonstrations until the government revokes its agreement with the US.
THAAD has been designed to intercept ballistic missiles inside or just outside the atmosphere during their final phase of flight.
Seoul and Washington began talks on the THAAD deployment to the Korean Peninsula after the North put an earth observation satellite into orbit in February.
Pyongyang has been under UN sanctions over its nuclear tests and launching missiles considered by the US and South Korea as ballistic and aimed at delivering nuclear warheads.
North Korea says it will not give up on its nuclear “deterrence” unless Washington ends its hostile policy toward Pyongyang and dissolves the US-led UN command in South Korea.