The Republic of Korea claims the installation of the THAAD anti-missile defense system is necessary to counter threats from Pyongyang. The system has received criticism abroad and at home.
CGTN’s Joseph Kim traveled to Seongju for a better understanding of how the community views the defense battery.
Koreans question long-term health, economic impact of anti-missile systemResidents near the deployment site of the THAAD anti-missile defense system express concern about potential health risks and the long-term economic effects.
Residents near the site where the U.S. system would be deployed have expressed concern about the potential health risks and the long-term effects on the local economy.
Son Mal-nyeon has been selling fruits at a Seongju market for nearly 40 years. In Seongju, fruits are a staple and account for most of the local economy. The fruit stand has made good money over the years — enough to send Son’s children to college. But businesses noticed a slump in sales following the deployment announcement of the anti-missile defense system.
For residents in Seongju and Gimcheon, the THAAD installment has become a sensitive issue. When the announcement was first made, the whole town rallied against it. Now, after the government changed the location site, public opinion has become polarized.
“You can’t really talk. There are people against THAAD and people that are not and think the country needs to go back,” Son said. “If you speak incorrectly, fights will break out. Really.”
But the area is under pressure, weighed down by fears that the missile defense system could pose health risks and make the region a high-priority military target.
Recent local surveys estimate tourism has fallen by more than 70 percent and the real estate market around Seongju and Gimcheon has reportedly also dropped.
THAAD’s impact on the economy, however, could be just one of the many contributing factors causing businesses to struggle.