April 20, 2018 12:18
The U.S. Forces Korea has proposed opening part of the site of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery in Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province to protesters in an effort to start the construction of facilities there.
To break the impasse, the USFK decided to accept the protesters' demand to let them check that no military facilities are being built.
Last week, the Defense Ministry and police were apparently helpless in the face of a few hundred protesters blocking the access road as the government tried to bring in construction materials.
The ministry had intended to repair or renovate the former golf clubhouse for the Korean and U.S. soldiers stationed there, who only have poor sanitation and no proper quarters.
But the protesters worried that the materials would also be used to build support for the THAAD battery, contrary to the ministry's promise, and insisted on access to check.
The USFK initially rejected the demand for security reasons. But it changed its mind when Gen. Vincent Brooks, the USFK commander, took a firsthand look at the poor conditions in which the soldiers are staying at the site.
The USFK said it is putting the top priority on improving soldiers' living conditions and will let protesters in.
But now the protesters are making fresh demands, saying they will only permit the repair of roofs and construction toilets, but even the construction of a mess hall and better accommodation will have to wait until fter the North Korea-U.S. summit next month.
Ministry spokeswoman Choi Hyun-soo said Friday, "We feel that it's now impossible to find a solution through dialogue" with the protesters. "We'll take every necessary step to start construction for the urgent improvement of soldiers' living conditions."
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