Asia Reacts to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) Deployment

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On July 8, the US and South Korea announced that Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) batteries would be stationed on the Korean peninsula.  On July 14, the US and South Korea announced the location for THAAD would be Seongju, roughly 100 miles south of South Korea’s capital, Seoul. 

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Political cartoon depicting a bald eagle [the United States] forcing a Korean man to pull a truck labeled THAAD while a dove with an olive branch [symbolizing peace] lays exhausted on the ground. 

"The truth is that the United States does not care about whether South Korea is safe or not. What it truly wants is an anti-missile system that could guarantee America's military supremacy in the Asia-Pacific and beyond."

“The THAAD deployment would gravely damage the strategic balance in the region as well as the strategic security interests of countries in the region including China, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang told a routine press briefing.”

 “We believe that the deployment of the THAAD system goes far beyond the defense need of the Korean Peninsula. Any justification to this cannot hold water. We have every reason and right to question the real scheme behind this action. We demand the US not to build its own security on the basis of jeopardizing other countries’ security and not to damage other countries’ legitimate security interests on the pretext of so-called security threats.”  - Wang Yi, China's Foreign Minister


“The decision disclosed that Park Geun Hye is the rare traitor and a war servant obsessed with confrontation with the fellow countrymen in the north and keen on realizing a wild ambition for invading the north as she unhesitatingly sold off the destiny and interests of the nation and harassed regional peace and stability.” – Spokesman for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country of the DPRK (CPRC)

“All matters related to the United States, including the handling of U.S. citizens detained by Pyongyang, will be conducted under its 'wartime law.” –Korean Central News Agency (KCNA)  

“The U.S. seeks to turn the peninsula into a theater of a thermonuclear war and thus implement its aggressive 'pivot to Asia-Pacific' strategy in real earnest.” –DPRK Foreign Ministry  

“On Monday, the North’s state media said it told the United States it will terminate contact through a U.N. channel in New York that allowed diplomats to communicate.” 

“There will be physical response measures from us as soon as the location and time that the invasionary (sic) tool for US world supremacy, THAAD, will be brought into South Korea,’ the North's military said in a statement.”


"The findings published on Aug. 12 from a regular survey by Gallup Korea also showed 31% opposing the deployment. No major changes were found on opinions regarding China’s importance in peace on the Korean Peninsula. [...] When asked which other country was most important to peace on the peninsula, 53% of respondents named the US, while 33% mentioned China, 2% mentioned Japan, and 1% mentioned Russia. [...] 'China has been vehemently objecting for the last month since the THAAD deployment decision was announced, but perceptions on relationships with neighbors have not changed much from last year,'Gallup observed."

Residents sent letters for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, as well as candidates for the head of South Korea's Saenuri Party, asking what the candidates' positions on THAAD were and whether they are willing to retract the decision to deploy THAAD.

"Basically, I oppose any introduction of (U.S.) weapons system (to my home country). The deployment of THAAD will encourage North Korea (DPRK) to produce more nuclear weapons. In the end, it will raise war risks." - Lee Jowoon, student

“If we continue to be divisive and social confusion grows about a decision we had no choice but to make to protect the country and the lives of our people, it would be exactly where North Korea wants us to go." –President Park Geun-hye 

“'China is not likely to ‘retaliate’ against South Korea concerning the latter's decision to allow the U.S. military to deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery here.'”— Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn   

"The most reasonable way to conclude the dispute over THAAD deployment is to go through the process of getting the National Assembly's ratification. There is a mixture of opinions on the issue of whether the deployment of THAAD requires the ratification of the legislature. Those who say it does require legislative ratification point out that it is a matter of national security involving land use and expenditure, while the government cites the ROK-U.S. Mutual Defense Agreement as making such approval unnecessary. However, the National Assembly Research Service has said, "It is doubtful that one can reasonably interpret the ROK-U.S. Mutual Defense Agreement or the Status of Forces Agreement as including the deployment of new weapons systems," clearly implying that THAAD deployment is an issue for ratification by the National Assembly."

 "At a simulation test, if North Korea launches a medium-range Rodong missile near Mount Paekdu (located on its border with China), targeting Pyeongtaek, it is found that the THAAD missile may not be capable of intercepting it."— Chang Young-keun, professor at Korea Aerospace University

"There is a controversy over the THAAD system's effectiveness, but the possibility itself that the system can intercept the enemy's missiles serves as a deterrent against (North Korea)." – Yang Wook, senior researcher with the Korea Defense and Security Forum

"A missile defense system is not yet a perfect technology, but it is meaningful that the THAAD system can provide protection for South Koreans at any rate.  In addition, from the perspective of the Seoul-Washington alliance, we cannot reject the U.S. move to bring the system here." – Kim Sung-kurl, research fellow at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses

"The primary goal of deploying THAAD here is to protect U.S. troops and its equipment. In that respect, do we need to compromise our diplomatic relations with Beijing, who bought 26 percent of all Korean exports last year by allowing the THAAD deployment?" - Cheong Seong-chang, senior fellow at the Sejong Institute. 

“This is a matter we will decide upon according to our own security and national interests. The Chinese had better recognize this point.” –Jung Youn-kuk, a spokesman for President Park Geun-hye  

“According to an ROK foreign ministry press release, South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken agreed during Wednesday (July 13) talks that ‘deployment of THAAD will contribute to [raise] the joint defense capabilities of South Korea and the U.S.’ and that ‘North Korea's denuclearization is a key strategic interest of all regional countries, they agreed to coordinate closely while keeping the North's denuclearization a top priority.'”

“Growing nuclear and missile threats are a very critical issue where the future of the Republic of Korea and the lives of our people are at stake. As president, I have the obligation to protect our people and nation.” - President Park Geun-hye

“One day after the decision was formally announced by South Korea and the United States, the North tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile in the East Sea. The sea-based missile reportedly failed in its initial flight stage.” 

“[The] measure aims ‘to guarantee the security of [South Korea] and its people from the threat of North Korea's nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, as well as to protect the military assets" of the South Korea-U.S. alliance.’” - Deputy Defense Minister Yoo Jeh-seung 

"We are currently monitoring reactions in China and will have to see how things turn out. But we are in a state of tension because if the Chinese were to stop traveling to Korea, it will deal a severe blow to the tourism industry, as the Chinese constitute around half of foreign tourists coming here." 

“At a time when the North is upgrading its nuclear and missile capacity and publicly expressing its intention for a nuclear strike, (the decision) is a self-defense action aimed at protecting our national security and life […] Going forward, the government will take every possible measure to cope with the North's nuclear and missile capacity.” – Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se

“If the international trend shifts from sanctions against the North to a ‘new Cold War,’ it would be the best scenario possible for Kim Jong-un.” – Rep. Kim Jong-dae of the minor opposition Justice Party 

Additional Topics in the Asia Reacts to... Series

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter's Trip to India and the Philippines
Secretary of State John Kerry's Historic Visit to Hiroshima
Donald Trump's Comments on Possible Nuclear Armament of Japan and South Korea
Donald Trump's First Foreign Policy Speech
 President Barack Obama's First Visit to Vietnam
 President Barack Obama's Historic Visit to Hiroshima
Nominations of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Fourth Visit to the United States
 2016 Democratic and Republican National Conventions
President Barack Obama's Final Trip to Asia
First Presidential Debate of the 2016 US Election 
Second Presidential Debate of the 2016 US Election 
Final Presidential Debate of the 2016 US Election
 Election of Donald Trump as 45th President of the United States
President-Elect Donald Trump's Talks with Asian Leaders 
The Inauguration of Donald J. Trump
 President Donald Trump's Executive Order on the Trans-Pacific Partnership 
US Withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord
 President Donald Trump's First Visit to Asia


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