Protesters clash with the police during a demonstration against the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in Seongju, South Korea, on Sept. 7, 2017.
Outside the presidential office of South Korea, scores of civilians against the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile interception system gathered on Friday afternoon.
Under an unusually burning sun in early autumn, residents living near the THAAD deployment site, around 300 km southeast of Seoul, held a press conference outside the Blue House together with peace activists who helped fight against the U.S. missile shield for over 400 days.
They harshly criticized the Moon Jae-in government as the remaining THAAD elements were transported Thursday morning to the site after violently suppressing anti-THAAD civilians.
"Villagers and people coming to the village from across the country to block THAAD deployment protested for 18 hours on the road, but the village was completely devastated," they said in a statement.
The violent suppression in the middle of night, mobilizing thousands of policemen, was identical to the quash that occurred at the village under the previous Park Geun-hye government, the statement noted.
On April 26, two mobile launchers and other THAAD elements were delivered in the middle of night to the former golf course at Soseong-ri village in Seongju county, North Gyeongsang province. The nighttime delivery caused a physical clash between anti-THAAD civilians and riot police, leaving scores of people wounded.
President Moon ordered a temporary installation of the remaining THAAD elements in late July, and Seoul's defense ministry announced its plan Wednesday afternoon to carry out the order within Thursday.
As soon as it turned midnight, six and a half hours after the defense ministry's announcement, some 8,000 policemen started to thrust and shove some 400 anti-THAAD civilians who gathered on the road beside the village of Soseong-ri, a single road to the THAAD site.
The civilians launched their protest rally on the road from 2 p.m. Wednesday, and it lasted until four more launchers and other THAAD elements passed by the protesters, who were besieged by a wall of riot policemen, at about 8:10 a.m. Thursday.
Police violently dispersed the protesters. According to an emergency anti-THAAD center at Soseong-ri, at least 50 civilians were wounded and the number must have been higher as many people were treated individually. Yonhap news agency reported that 36 civilians were taken to hospitals for injury.
"People were dragged by the hair, and their clothes were ripped (by the riot police). People were horribly trampled as they were done on April 26," a villager from Soseong-ri told the press conference with a resentful voice.
Kim Jong-hee, a woman from Gimcheon city that borders the Seongju county, said she cast her vote for President Moon in the May 9 election, for which she felt an impulse to cut out her hand as many of the elderly at the village did because of their votes for Moon's predecessor Park Geun-hye who decided to deploy the U.S. missile shield.
Starting from that midnight, she said, the Moon Jae-in government gave up its identity of a democratic government, vowing not to give up her fight against the THAAD until the deployed battery is withdrawn from her home country.
An anti-THAAD activist told reporters that he felt the Moon Jae-in government was the re-launch of the Park Geun-hye government when he went through the violent repression.