South Korea: Farmers don't want missile system near crops

A site 120 miles south of Seoul, down a country road from a golf course, is slated to become home to the US military’s newest defense against North Korea’s missiles. The Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system is designed to shoot down rockets — using rockets — in midair. Reports suggest a mixed track record on THAAD's accuracy, but for residents living near the deployment site, their biggest concerns about the defense system are potential health risks.

Both the US and South Korean militaries have tried to calm local concerns. They've said the THAAD system's radar emissions meet safety standards and there won’t be any adverse effect on the surrounding communities.

Still, local farmers don’t want their produce to be known as THAAD grapes or plums, according to Kim Hee-soo. The 45-year-old supermarket manager has joined recent demonstrations against the missile shield system, which so far have been peaceful.

“If these missiles are brought to the area, I expect the protesters might turn aggressive,” she says. 

Just a mile away from the golf course, in the parking lot of a rural community center, 58-year-old melon farmer Lee Jeong-hee is getting ready to address fellow residents during what’s become a routine demonstration.

“I really think this missile deployment is going to make South Koreans angry at the American military here,” says Lee, whose brown, wide-brimmed hat is adorned with a red ribbon that says in Korean, “Totally Against THAAD.”


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