SEOUL, Oct. 11 (Xinhua) — Residents living in and near a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) site in southeastern South Korea rallied in front of the U.S. embassy in central Seoul on Tuesday, calling for retraction of the agreement between Seoul and Washington to install the U.S. missile defense system.
About 500 residents from Seongju county and Gimcheon city gathered near the U.S. embassy in Seoul, carrying a placard that reads "Desperate opposition to THAAD deployment."
South Korea and the United States jointly announced their decision in July to deploy one THAAD battery at a missile emplacement in Seongju county in North Gyeongsang province by the end of next year.
Faced with the bitterest opposition from Seongju residents, President Park Geun-hye said in early August that she would reconsider the THAAD site to minimize damages from the THAAD's X-band radar which is known to emit super microwave detrimental to human body and environment.
On Sept. 30, Seoul's defense ministry said it would alter the U. S. missile shield site into a golf course in the Seongju county's far northern area that faces the Gimcheon city with a population of about 140,000.
The golf course is reportedly owned by Lotte Group, the country' s fifth-largest conglomerate. Lotte's founding family, including group chairman Shin Dong-bin, has been under prosecutors' investigation for slush funds, embezzlement and tax evasion.
Online signature campaign, which demands the withdrawal of the THAAD deployment decision, started on July 15, a week after the THAAD deployment decision.
More than 100,000 residents and other THAAD objectors signed the online petition via the "We the People" website, calling on the White House to retract the agreement on the U.S. anti-missile battery installation.
The White House is required to officially reply to an online petition garnering more than 100,000 signatures within 30 days.
The U.S. government replied on Monday that the two allies are making efforts to realize the THAAD deployment as the U.S. missile defense system is a "purely defensive measure" against nuclear and missile threats from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), according to local media reports.
Seongju and Gimcheon residents denounced the U.S. government for its decision to deploy the super microwave-emitting radar at a densely populated area, asking whether there has been any other case in the past to place THAAD in a populous region.
They criticized the White House reply as it was just a repetition like a parrot of what South Korea and the U.S. have reiterated.
Candlelight rallies have been held in the Seongju county every night to oppose the THAAD deployment, and Oct. 20 will be the 100th day of the rally that will be celebrated with similar rallies in about 100 areas nationwide.