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(LEAD) Gimcheon residents hold rally against THAAD deployment

All Headlines 21:59 August 24, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with details of rally; CHANGES photo; RECASTS headline)

GIMCHEON, South Korea, Aug. 24 (Yonhap) -- Thousands of residents in South Korea's southern city of Gimcheon staged a rally Wednesday to protest the government's decision to review its neighborhood as an alternative site for the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system.

About 8,000 residents gathered at a sports complex in the city in North Gyeongsang Province to protest the government move to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system at a golf course in northern Seongju, 296 kilometers southeast of Seoul. Gimcheon is located in the vicinity of the candidate site.

Police, however, estimated the number of participants at 6,000.

In July, Seoul and Washington agreed to place a THAAD battery in Seongju by the end of next year in a bid to counter North Korea's evolving nuclear and missile threats.

The government, however, later said it will review an alternative site for the deployment of THAAD after Seongju residents living near the state-chosen site called on Seoul to examine other locations within the county. When the golf course emerged as a likely alternative site, nearby residents in Gimcheon started voicing their opposition.

During the rally, Gimcheon Mayor Park Bo-saeng and five co-chairmen of a task force formed to fight the possible THAAD deployment shaved their hair in protest of the government move.

"The government initially chose the Seongsan artillery base as the site for THAAD deployment but is trying to change the site to the Lotte golf course, facing fierce opposition from Seongju residents. Why would it try to change the site if THAAD is not harmful? If it is not, the government should prove this scientifically, persuade them and do as it intended to do at first," Kim Se-woon, one of the co-chairmen of the task force, claimed before shaving his hair. "We can never accept a THAAD deployment plan that ignores 140,000 Gimcheon citizens."


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