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Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD)

Former top prosecutor Yoon Suk-yeol of the conservative People Power Party won a tightly fought election on 09 March 2022. Yoon was looking to expand the American air defense system built to counter threats from the North. The THAAD missile system was first deployed under ousted President Park Geun-hye. Beijing fought against it and its long-distance radar, and Moon stalled any further development. If the president-elect goes through with his plan, China won't be happy.

In a statement issued 31 October 2017, Seoul is said to have made clear to Beijing that THAAD will not be directed against a third-party, and therefore will not harm China's strategic security. Meanwhile Beijing has reaffirmed its opposition to the THAAD deployment, but at the same time, has taken note of South Korea's position, and the two sides promised further discussions in the future.

With Chinese President Xi Jinping's re-election as head of the Communist Party, there were signs in numerous areas showing an improvement in bilateral relations. The entertainment, automobile and retail sectors had all been affected over the past year. South Korea's tourism industry alone is said to have seen a drop of 4.7 billion dollars, after Beijing restricted flights and holiday packages to the country. With Chinese travel agencies slowly resuming the sale of tour packages and Chinese airlines resuming flights to Jeju Island, there could be a recovery in Korea's tourism and distribution sectors.

After South Korea decided to deploy the THAAD missile defense system in July 2016, China's retaliatory measures were most visible in the culture and entertainment sectors. Concerts and fan meetings were cancelled and Korean celebrities couldn't star in China's TV programs, nor could their video clips be distributed online. But as the two countries promised in NOvember 2017 to rebuild their relations as soon as possible, changes were already being seen. On 01 November 2017, a K-pop group named Mamamoo was spotted arriving in China, and according to industry insiders, they have performed for a TV music program in Sichuan province. Mid and small sized online video platforms were getting ready to resume importing South Korean dramas. And a couple of Chinese broadcasters, including the state-run CCTV, aired programs about the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics and the torch relay which they never did during the over-one-year-long THAAD row.

Deployment of the THAAD in South Korea would be carried out soon at the new base in Seongju County. The 04 September 2017 announcement follows the environment ministry's approval of the results of an impact assessment on the U.S. missile defense system [and the DPRK's sixth nuclear test]. In August 2017, the defense and environment ministries conducted a joint survey of the levels of electromagnetic radiation and noise coming from the two rocket launchers and their X-band radars. The results showed radiation and noise levels were on par with regulatory standards and will have no impact on local residents, who are more than two-kilometers away from the THAAD base. For now, the people of Seongju were strongly opposed to the deployment.

The South Korean government announced 28 July 2017 a plan to conduct an additional environmental impact assessment of the THAAD antimissile system. The Defense Ministry said the government will make a final decision on the deployment of the U.S. missile interceptors after carrying out a general assessment of the environmental impact of the system on its entire site in Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province in accordance to the local law.

The ministry said in addition to the new assessment, the small-sized environmental evaluation launched in December will also be continued, adding it will discuss how to proceed with the rest of the evaluation with the Environment Ministry. The ministry said despite the environmental surveys, it will allow the construction of additional facilities at the Seongju site to assist the temporary management of the existing facilities and provide fuel and amenities for U.S. troops stationed at the site.

President Moon Jae-in ordered his Secretary of Civil Affairs and Chief National Security Adviser to thoroughly investigate the unreported, undisclosed introduction of four additional launchers in the nation. A probe order from the president was announced 30 May 2017 by Moon's chief press secretary after Seoul's defense ministry failed to report to his administration that four more launchers for the controversial US missile defense system, THAAD, had been brought into South Korea. The anti-missile battery was initially deployed earlier this year under the former administration with just two of its maximum load of six launchers as a way to counter increasing missile threat from North Korea.

President Moon said he was "shocked" to learn from his national security chief that four additional THAAD launchers were brought in without being reported to the new administration or to the public. The presidential office said the former government's defense ministry had even omitted this fact from its policy briefing report to President Moon's de factor transition team last week noting there are suspicions that it may have been to avoid social and political scrutiny over the possible impact the launchers could have on the environment.

The first draft of the defense ministry report clearly states the storage location of six THAAD system launchers including the four that had been brought in additionally. South Korea's presidential Blue Office confirmed that the nation's defense ministry officials deliberately dropped mentioning that four more launchers had been deployed for the controversial U.S. THAAD missile defense system in their report to the new administration.

Wee Seung-ho, deputy defense minister for policy, ordered that that statement be deleted from the report before being submitted to the de facto power transition team. Wee acknowledged giving such order and apparently told the top office that he made the judgment based on an agreement of confidentiality over THAAD between South Korea and the US. That, obviously, he said, does not apply to the Commander-in-Chief of the nation. Wee had been relieved of duty and further investigation will be launched to unveil other defense ministry officials implicated in the case.

In what appeared to be efforts to narrow their differences, U.S. Missile Defense Agency chief Vice Admiral James Syring and chief of U.S. Forces Korea and Combined Forces Command General Vincent Brooks met with Seoul's NSC chief Chung Eui-yong at the top office on 05 June 2017. During the meeting, Washington's top military personnel explained in detail the current state of the missile shield system to which Seoul's security chief expressed gratitude.

Chung clarified that South Korea current review of the system is to secure democratic and procedural legitimacy for the deployment within this country and the American side reiterated Washington's stance that it understands and trusts the Moon government's position.

Speaking in a policy forum in Washington, special foreign policy adviser Moon Chung-in saidthat the government's environmental assessment for the full deployment of the THAAD antimissile system test will take a year. "Four seasons; spring, summer, autumn, and winter. They should go through a full seasonal cycle and measure its environmental impact."

Media reports on 02 May 2017 quoted a US defense official as saying the THAAD facility in Seongju is now “operational” and has reached “initial intercept capability.”

Donald Trump suggested charging Seoul with a one-billion dollar bill for the deployment of the THAAD anti-missile system. He also hinted at his intentions to terminate the South Korea-US free trade agreement unless the deal is renegotiated for better trade terms for the US. In an interview with Reuters on Thursday 27 April 2017, the American president revealed his plans for the U.S. missile shield the allies of South Korea and the U.S. began deploying on the Korean Peninsula. "So I informed South Korea it would be appropriate if they paid. Nobody is going to do that. Why are we paying a billion dollars? It's a billion dollar system. It's phenomenal. It's the most incredible equipment you have ever seen. It shoots missiles right out of the sky. And it protects them. I want to protect them. We are going to protect them. But they should pay for that. And they understand that."

The South Korean government quickly rejected Donald Trump’s call for Seoul to pay $1 billion for the THAAD missile defense system. The Defense Ministry put out a statement Friday 28 April 2017 saying, “There is no change in South Korea and the United States’ position that our government provides the land and supporting facilities and the U.S. bears the cost of THAAD system’s deployment, operation and maintenance.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that Trump has “proved once again that he's out of his depth in the White House.” She added that “the unpredictable bluster and bravado" he used in the private sector is "embarrassing and dangerous" coming from the president of the United States. Senator Ed Markey, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affair, also spoke up. He said instead of Trump’s "damaging and disrespectful rhetoric towards South Korea," the U.S. needs to reaffirm and strengthen its alliance with the key partner.

The US confirmed once again that South Korea will not have to pay towards the deployment of the THAAD missile defense system, despite comments made by Donald Trump earlier this week. Seoul's presidential office revealed that in a phone call on Sunday 30 Aprl 2017 lasting 35 minutes, Trumps' national security advisor, H.R. McMaster, was said to have explained to his Korean counterpart, Kim Kwan-jin, that when Trump said he wanted to make Seoul pay for the costs, he was simply making general comments about the U.S. public's wishes on the issue.

The administration of Donald Trump appeared to be standing behind him and his comments that South Korea should pay for THAAD. This, despite a clear deal laying out the cost burden. US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster has suggested renegotiations on the cost of THAAD are possible. It was a departure from a phone conservation with South Korea's chief of the National Security Office, Kim Kwan-jin. According to Kim, Seoul and Washington reaffirmed that the US will pay for THAAD.

McMaster, however, explained what he meant in an interview with Fox News. “What I told our South Korean counterpart is until any re-negotiating, the deal is in place.” McMaster's comments appear to be in line with remark's made by President Trump that South Korea should pay one billion dollars for THAAD. McMaster said Trump has asked officials to review all US alliances, including South Korea, to make sure cost and responsibilities are appropriately shared.

The deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile battery was agreed to in 2016 by the administrations of then U.S. President Barack Obama and then South Korean President Park Geun-hye. Park was able to evade demands that she seek National Assembly approval for the deal by claiming no additional funding would be required for the THAAD deployment.

South Korean public opinion on THAAD shifted from opposing to supporting the controversial American weapons system, as North Korea relentlessly moved forward with nuclear and ballistic missile tests in the face of increased international sanctions. An 17 April 2017 Chosun Ilbo newspaper survey found 60 percent of the South Korean public in favor of THAAD and 30 percent opposed.

Admiral Harry Harris, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), said 26 April 2017 during a congressional hearing in Washington the THAAD system will become operational “in the coming days.” The battery includes one X-band radar, and 6 launchers, each with 8 missiles.

On 06 March 2017, U.S. Pacific Command announced that the first elements of its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system had been deployed to South Korea. The announcement followed the firing earlier that day by North Korea of four medium-range ballistic missiles, three of which flew about 1,000 kilometers and landed in Japanese waters.

China refused 10 January 2017 to approve shipments of massive amounts of Korean cosmetics amid heightened tension over the scheduled deployment of the THAAD missile defense system to Korea. According to industry sources in Beijing, 19 out of the 28 beauty products that failed to receive import approval from China were from Korea, and more than eleven-thousand kilograms of Korean cosmetics were ordered to be returned. Korean cosmetic companies, including AmorePacific and Kolmar Korea, had seen their sales in China plunge since July last year, when Seoul formally announced plans to deploy the U.S. missile defense system. China was believed to be taking economic retaliation against the decision.

South Korea announced 30 September 2016 a new location for an advanced U.S. missile defense unit. The ROK Defense Ministry said it intended to place the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) on a golf course. Earlier, the US and South Korea had agreed the THAAD battery would be located on a missile base in the rural county of Seongju, southeast of the capital, Seoul. Local residents objected, however, saying the THAAD system posed health and environmental concerns, and made the area a target for North Korea. The new site is on a golf course owned by the scandal-plagued Lotte retail chain, 18 kilometers to the north of the air base. The golf course lies 296 kilometers southeast of Seoul and is around 680 meters above sea level. The location is far from residential areas, in response to Seongju residents' concerns about the potential health problems posed by THAAD's radar system. The golf course is valued at over 90 million US dollars, and the government will have to gain parliamentary approval for such a large budget outlay.

Opposition parties criticized the government's final decision to deploy the THAAD missile defense system at a golf course. The main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea said the steps taken by the government to introduce THAAD have been a textbook case of noncommunication and one-way, closed-door administrative behavior. Minjoo Spokesman Keum Tae-sup said the government going back and forth in the process of deciding on the deployment and selecting the site has only caused public resistance and division. The minor opposition People's Party also said the government's unilateral decision to change the deployment site will only stir up new controversy.

THAAD was expected to be deployed to South Korea by the end of 2017 to better protect against North Korea's nuclear and missile threats. Composed of six mobile launchers each carrying eight interceptors and a radar, THAAD can shoot down an incoming projectile within its 200-kilometer, 120-degree striking range at an altitude of up to 150 kilometers. This missile defense system in South Korea would be effective against a number of missiles in North Korea’s arsenal, including short-range Scuds and medium range Nodong and Musudan missiles.

South Korea and the United States finally struck a deal to deploy the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense(THAAD) battery on the Korean Peninsula. This represented a deployment by the US military of a US system, rather than a decision by South Korea to acquire and operate the system on its own. Seoul’s Defense Minister Han Min-koo said that South Korea has no plans to purchase a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense(THAAD) battery from the US. In the wake of the decision to allow the US troops' deployment of the advanced interceptors on the Korean Peninsula, the defense minister attended the parliamentary National Defense Committee session on 11 July 2016. Asked if the South Korean military can consider buying its own THAAD, Han said no and that no such consideration is part of the defense ministry’s mid- and long-term plan.

The two sides tried to relieve misgivings by China and Russia by stating that THAAD will only counter threats by the North and won't be aimed at any third country. South Korea's Deputy Minister for Defense Policy Ryu Je-seung and Commander of the Eighth US Army Thomas Vandal revealed the decision at a joint news conference 08 July 2016.

South Korean Deputy Minister for Defense Policy Ryu Je-seung stated "Based on discussions held thus far, the two nations have agreed to deploy the THAAD battery at a U.S. base in South Korea to assure the safety of the Republic of Korea and its citizens from the threat of the North's nuclear program, weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles and to protect the military strength of the South Korea-U.S. alliance."

Commander of the Eighth U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Thomas Vandal said "North Korea's continued pursuit of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction in opposition to its commitments to the international community require our alliance to ensure that we retain the ability to defend ourselves in the face of this threat. Deploying THAAD to the Korean Peninsula will improve our missile defense posture, which is a critical aspect of our defense strategy."

Defense Minister Han Min-koo said South Korea will provide the land on which to install the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery without shouldering additional expenses. In the 08 July 2016 statement, the two sides said that the THAAD battery will be deployed at a U.S. base in South Korea.

At that time, South Korea and the US were in the final stages of selecting an optimum site that can secure the safety and health of citizens as well as the effectiveness of THAAD to the defense ministers of the two nations. The location of the THAAD installment is expected to be announced later in July 2016. Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, Wonju, Gangwon Province and Chilgok, North Gyeongsang Province were some the candidate sites, but the antimissile defense system could be deployed to the central part of the nation or regions around Gyeonggi Province which surround the capital.

The ruling Saenuri Party welcomed the Seoul-Washington agreement on the deployment of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense(THAAD) battery, expecting that the decision will greatly help guard national security and public safety of South Korea. Saenuri Spokeswoman Kim Hyun-ah said in a briefing that the ruling party will actively work with the government to ensure safety and prevent harmful effects to the environment in the process of deploying and operating the antimissile system. She said that the THAAD decision is a testimony to the solid alliance between Seoul and Washington, calling it a necessary step to take amid escalating threats from North Korea.

The main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea revealed a more cautious stance, saying that the government’s hasty decision is regrettable, although it doesn’t oppose the THAAD deployment in principle. The Minjoo's Spokesman Lee Jae-kyung said that few measures are in sight to handle diplomatic conflicts with China or Russia, which oppose the deployment of the U.S. weapons system in South Korea. The main opposition party proposed to discuss the issue in a meeting of the parliamentary defense committee. The minor opposition People’s Party criticized the government for ignoring China’s opposition and possible economic repercussions that could be caused by strained relations with Beijing.

Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn has reaffirmed the government’s position that the decision to deploy the THAAD on the Korean Peninsula did not require parliamentary approval. The prime minister presented the view on 12 July 2016 during a plenary session of the parliamentary committee on budget and accounts. Some opposition lawmakers argued that the deployment of the U.S. missile defense system requires parliamentary consent, while others called for a referendum on the issue.

The US military planned to deploy its Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense in South Korea and encouraged Seoul to do so instead of developing a Korean missile defense system. "There was consideration being taken in order to consider THAAD being deployed here in Korea. It is a US initiative, and in fact, I recommended it as the commander," General Curtis Scaparrotti, the commander of United States Forces Korea (USFK), said in June 2014 addressing a forum hosted by the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, in Seoul. Vice-chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff James Winnefeld said on 28 May 2014 that the US military was mulling an additional deployment of interceptor missiles in the Asia-Pacific region to prepare for what he called the DPRK threats. The US military had conducted a site survey for its THAAD battery deployment in South Korea though no final decision has been made.

In September 2014 US Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work said there had been discussions on setting up a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD system to deter North Korea's missile threats. "We are considering very carefully whether or not to put a THAAD in South Korea we are doing sight surveys we are working with the government of South Korea to determine whether that is the right thing."

South Korean officials maintained that they want to provide protection from possible missile attacks domestically. South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said 18 June 2014 that " we made it clear for us to have no plan to buy and deploy" the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), but he indicated no objection to the US deployment of its missile defense system on the Korean Peninsula. Kim said said 23 July 2014 that Korea would not object to Korea hosting the American system, as long as Seoul does not pay for it.

Russia voiced concerns over THAAD deployment. “We expect the leadership of the Republic of Korea to thoroughly weigh possible consequences of such a move, including for the security of their own country,” the Russian Foreign Ministry warned in a statement on 24 July 2014. “In fact there is a prospect of expansion of America’s global anti-missile defense system into South Korean soil. Such a development will inevitably impact the strategic situation in the region and may trigger an arms race in North Eastern Asia,” the ministry added.

The concerns were belittled by Washington. "I understand there are strong opinions in Russia about missile defense. We have been very clear that it is not aimed at them and we are looking at a variety of other threats and we will continue talking to them and being transparent with them about why we are doing what we are doing," State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a media briefing.

South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se echoed Russel's words while speaking to reporters, but added there were no official talks about THAAD deployment. "As for THAAD, there is currently no development. The government will consider all factors, including security, before reaching a decision that will maximize our national interest."

As the foreign ministry teetered between Seoul's closest partners, the defense ministry was much more blunt, saying that neighboring countries should not weigh in on South Korea's security policy. Another South Korean government official underscored the bind for Seoul, saying: “If the United States wants to deploy (THAAD) as part of its military operation, we're in no position to say they should or shouldn't do it.”

In February 2016 discussions focused on stationing one Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) unit with the US military in South Korea. Seoul said the deployment of the THAAD missile system would be a response to North Korea's recent long-range rocket launch.

Washington and Seoul formally announced they intended to deploy the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense missile system in South Korea at the earliest possible date. Exactly when and where the system would be deployed would be the subject of formal discussions. The THAAD deployment was only meant to protect South Korea from the north's growing nuclear and missile capabilities, and would not target other countries in the region, such as China.

Official talks were under way regarding the deployment of the US missile defense system THAAD into South Korea to better counter any possible missile attacks by the North. "Protecting the lives of our citizens from North Korea's nuclear tipped missiles is our top priority. We will approach this issue and make a decision based on our right of self-defense." Defense minister Han said the THAAD system would be able to better protect South Korea. He emphasized that the current ongoing talks will help the allies find the best locations to place the THAAD batteries, without affecting the safety of local residents or the surrounding environment.

A Thaad battery is comprised of 48 inceptors, six truck-mounted launchers, a fire control and communications unit and AN/TPY-2 radar. The THAAD battery would be installed in Seongju County in North Gyeongsang Province. The South Korean Defense Ministry on 13 July 2016 announced that the American missile interceptor will be placed in an air defense artillery base located in a 400-meter high mountainous terrain some 200 kilometers from the capital Seoul.

Deputy Minister for Defense Policy Ryu Je-seung said : "If we operate THAAD in the Seongju region, we can better protect the citizens living in the area covering half or two-thirds of the entire South Korean territory from North Korean nuclear and missile threats. We can also drastically improve our capacity and readiness to defend the South Korea-US military capabilities and nuclear power plants, oil reserves and other nationally important facilities." Deputy Minister for Defense Policy Ryu Je-seung said the decision was reached as recommended by the South Korea-U.S. working group.

While having U.S. military bases in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province and the South Korean Army, Navy and Air Force headquarters in South Chungcheong Province within its umbrella, THAAD can also intercept projectiles approaching from behind within 100 kilometers to guard supporting troops arriving from overseas in contingencies.

Placing the THAAD base outside of North Korea's 300-millimeter artillery range, the South Korean military was expected to shield the Seoul metropolitan region with Patriot-3(PAC-3) lower-altitude interceptors.

The US operated five THAAD batteries as of 2016: one in Guam and the others at the Army base in Texas. One of the anti-missile battery units at Fort Bliss will be deployed to Seongju County in Gyeongsangbuk-do province. Seoul and Washington planned to hold deeper discussions over the plan during their 48th annual Security Consultative Meeting on October 20th. Though the original schedule was to have the missile defense system in South Korea by the end of next year, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel expressed willingness to speed up the process in light of North Korea's pace of missile and nuclear developments.

Seoul was not willing to pay for the US missile defense system THAAD to be deployed in Korea, Defense Ministry Spokesman Moon Sang-kyun said 09 November 2016. “We already have expressed many times that we are not willing to purchase it. THAAD has been already decided between the administrations of South Korea and the U.S., and is proceeding normally, so we judge that there will be no such problem,” he said.

As the southern town of Seongju was selected as the site for deployment, Seoul would be outside the THAAD range and additional defense system would therefore also be needed. By supplying six Patriot missile batteries to defend Seoul at 600 billion won (about 515 million U.S. dollars) per each unit, a new market of 3.6 trillion won (about 3.1 billion dollars) will be created. Additional markets will open when it sells missile-defense combat systems on the Korean Navy's procurement of three Aegis-class ships. Furthermore, another 2 trillion won (about 1.7 billion dollars) market will be offered if Korea purchases just one THAAD battery.

The remaining parts of the Theater High Altitude Area Defense antimissile system would arrive within a month, or by 08 April 2017, two officials from the South Korean military exclusively told the JoongAng Ilbo, an affiliate of the Korea JoongAng Daily, 09 March 2017. One official told the paper that Seoul and Washington agreed to operate the missile interceptor “as soon as” all the military equipment arrives in South Korea, which could mean that the Thaad-battery might go into action in early April 2017. Another senior military official said components will arrive regardless of other Thaad-related procedures Seoul and Washington are working on.

Chinese Opposition

THAAD's location down south should relieve Beijing and Moscow since its radar, with an optimal 800-kilometer range, would only reach the coastal tips of China's Shandong Peninsula and some Sino-North Korea border areas.

Beijing voiced its concerns over THAAD plans, with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang saying in June 2014 that “deploying missile defense on the Korean peninsula would not be in the interest of regional stability or strategic balance.”

Chinese Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Liu Jianchao told reporters in Seoul on 16 March 2015 that China hoped South Korea will consider Beijing's concerns before deploying the US-led missile defense system. Beijing was against the deployment over concerns that the radar system, which can cover 2,000 kilometers, could be used to monitor mainland China.

But following talks with senior South Korean officials in Seoul on Tuesday, US Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel said THAAD is purely for countering North Korean threats and that its deployment is up to South Korea. "It is for the Republic of Korea to decide what measures it will take in its own alliance defense and when."

The day after China voiced concerns over the possible deployment of a THAAD missile defense system in South Korea, the United States said China doesn't have a say in the matter. "I find it curious that a third country would presume to make strong representations about a security system that has not been put in place and that is still a matter of theory."

China voiced strong discontent and resolute opposition against U.S. and South Korea’s decision to deploy the THAAD missile defence system in South Korea. In a statement 08 July 2016, Chinese Foreign Ministry urges the two countries to stop the deployment process. The statement says deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system in South Korea is not conducive to the goal of the Korean Peninsula denuclearization, is not good for the peace and stability in the peninsula, and it goes against the effort by relevant parties to resolve issues through dialogue and consultation. The move will severely harm strategic security interests of countries in the region, including China, and regional strategic balance, the Foreign Ministry said in the statement.

Seoul deeply regretted that the UN Security Council (UNSC) was unable to adopt a press statement condemning North Korea’s latest launch of intermediate-range ballistic missiles. A ROK Foreign Ministry official said 10 August 2016 that though the North continues to violate UNSC resolutions with ballistic missile launches, the council recently failed to jointly respond to the provocations due to objections raised by "some members". China proposed that the statement stipulate that all relevant parties shall not deploy any new antiballistic missile stronghold in Northeast Asia under the premise of dealing with North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats. Another Foreign Ministry official said Seoul is hoping that China will play a more responsible role as a permanent UNSC member, citing that Beijing supported the adoption of Resolution 2270 and has vowed to faithfully implement UNSC resolutions.

Beijing has long been against the deployment of THAAD to South Korea citing it will undermine regional stability and Chinese security interests. And since the announcement of the site in South Korea where THAAD is expected to be stationed, Beijing has seemingly started a backlash on South Korea's travel and entertainment industries,… while staying reluctant to punish Pyongyang for its continuing missile provocations.

Adding to the already faltering private consumption, the number of Chinese tourists to South Korea was forecast to fall following Seoul's decision to install the U.S. missile shield. Ten major China-dependent South Korean firms had lost 11.2 trillion won (10 billion U.S. dollars) in stock value from July 7 through 05 August 2016. Sales forecast became dismal for domestic firms, which heavily depend on Chinese tourists and consumers for revenue, as well as entertainment companies that had enjoyed the popularity of so-called Hallyu, or Korean Wave, in China. SM Entertainment, which manages girl group Girls' Generation and many other Hallyu stars, tumbled the most among the 10 stocks by 26.7 percent in the cited period. Cosmetics giants Amore Pacific and LG Household & Health Care plunged 17.8 percent and 22.3 percent each, while YG Entertainment managing boy band Big Bang and Gangnam Style's Psy retreated 11.1 percent.

China took what appeared to be retaliatory measures although it is denied it. Beijing banned South Korean stars from appearing on its TV shows and rejected a request by airline companies to operate chartered planes bound for South Korea. It has also reportedly decided not to provide state subsidies to cars equipped with Korean-made batteries.

South Korea mulled measures to counter China’s recent moves that appear to be its retaliation to Seoul’s decision to deploy a U.S. THAAD antimissile system on the Korean Peninsula. Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said 02 January 2017 that there would be an appropriate, necessary response to Beijing's move. This was the first time the South Korean foreign minister had announced countermeasures against China's perceived retaliation for Seoul's planned deployment of the THAAD missile interceptors. His remarks were also seen as a strong warning against China. A government official said related ministries and agencies are reviewing various possible measures regarding China's actions.

Lotte Group suspended its sales operations on one of China's biggest online shopping malls. Lotte confirmed 08 February 2017 that it took down its flagship store as of January 12th on Tmall -- an online mall operated by Alibaba Group. The closure comes at a time when relations between Seoul and Beijing have soured, after Korea decided to deploy the U.S. THAAD missile defense system.

China strongly opposed the deployment, and has in recent months taken actions seen as retaliation. It had banned the import of Korean comestics, which are popular in the Chinese market, and called off local performances by Korean artists.

Lotte denied that the store closing has any link to THAAD, but as the company providing the land to host the anti-missile battery, it had already been hit hard. The Chinese authorties had conducted tax audits and fire and safety inspections on all Lotte business units operating in China since November 2016. They also put on hold the constuction of a theme park in the northeastern city of Shenyang until what they call "errors" in the construction are fixed.

Beijing's foreign ministry denied that the measure was in any way related to THAAD. Lotte had also closed down three supermarket chains in China recently, although that is said to have more to do with sales performance than the THAAD issue.

On 03 March 2017 it was reported that China's national tourism agency had called on travel agencies across the country to stop selling all travel packages to Chinese nationals wishing to visit South Korea starting 15 March 2017. That meant Chinese tourists will only be able to travel to South Korea on individually booked trips, buying tickets and making reservations on their own. This was expected to deal a direct blow to South Korea's tourism industry, as Chinese tourists make up almost 50-percent of all foreign tourists to South Korea.

Domestic Opposition

President Park expressed concern 09 August 2016 about the visit to China by opposition party lawmakers, which she said could be used to strengthen Beijing's opposition against the deployment of the THAAD missile defense system, and asked the main opposition Minjoo Party to trust the government and unite for the national interest. She reiterated the need to deploy THAAD against North Korea's continual nuclear and missile threats and sought cooperation from the political sphere in guarding the nation and the people's security. "It's a nation's duty to prepare measures to protect the people, an inevitable self-defense. There cannot be rival parties or ideological differences when it comes to the matter of public security." She reiterated THAAD deployment is an inevitable measure to protect the country from North Korea's nuclear and missile aggression while pointing out the opposition should abstain from voicing unreasonable criticism without offering an alternative.

Lawmakers of three South Korean opposition parties held their first gathering 11 August to oppose the deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) on its soil. Members of three political parties, including the main opposition Minju Party, the casting vote-exercising People's Party and the minor Justice Party, held the first closed-door meeting to discuss how to launch a tri-partisan anti-THAAD gathering. The People's Party and the Justice Party demanded the retraction or re-negotiation at the National Assembly of the THAAD deployment decision, which will strain relations of South Korea with China and Russia and escalate tensions in the region. The Minju Party was divided into those clearly against the THAAD installation and members taking cautious stance ahead of the presidential election in late 2017.

The ruling Saenuri Party claimed the parliamentary agreement is not required in the THAAD deployment as it is a matter of national security, but opposition lawmakers demand an open debate as it causes serious effects militarily, diplomatically and economically. As the ruling party lost its majority in the April general elections, it cannot win approval at the National Assembly for the THAAD deployment if the parliamentary ratification process is launched. About half of South Koreans are against the U.S. missile shield, while the other half is in favor of it.

Political parties had been divided over the plan for deployment since it was announced by the government -- the ruling Saenuri Party supported it and the People’s Party opposed it, while the MPK has failed to adopt a clear stance. Once the election looms in 2017, presidential runners who are against the THAAD will very likely highlight the negative aspects of the system, and their opposition could help decide the fate of the deployment. Presidential hopefuls from opposition parties have already expressed their opposition to THAAD. Experts also expect China to gradually intensify its criticism against the THAAD until Seoul’s next presidential election in a bid to worsen the division among South Koreans. They say China might hope that the division will delay the deployment and the next government will withdraw the decision.

By 2017 the potential South Korean presidential candidates from the three largest political parties all hold somewhat moderate positions.

Acting President Hwang came out strongly in favor of THAAD as a “vital defense measure” but said his government for now will try to resolve its differences with China through negotiation. Hwang was considered a possible conservative candidate for the ruling Liberty Korea Party that recently changed its name from the Saenuri Party in an attempt to disassociate itself from the presidential corruption scandal.

Moon Jae-in, the frontrunner candidate for the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea, voiced support for the U.S. alliance but wanted to postpone a decision on THAAD until after the election, and supported reopening dialogue and cooperation with Pyongyang.

Ahn Cheol-soo, who as a candidate for the People’s Party that also supported Park’s impeachment, helds a similar position to that of the ruling party. He was also a strong supporter of the US alliance and THAAD and opposed any attempt by China to coerce South Korea on national security issues.

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Page last modified: 11-03-2022 17:01:24 ZULU