The base for the U.S. anti-ballistic missile defense system THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) is undergoing renovation for U.S. and South Korean soldier housing. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 2 (UPI) -- Construction of housing units for U.S. and South Korean soldiers stationed at the THAAD site in Seongju, central South Korea, began Friday amid continued local opposition to the U.S. missile defense system in the area.
South Korea's defense ministry said Friday a container to be used as temporary accommodation for soldiers was airlifted to the site as a crew begins renovating an existing facility, a golf clubhouse, into residences, Newsis reported.
South Korean authorities said there were no clashes with local activists as a military helicopter airlifted the container to the site. More containers will be transported to the base next week.
A defense ministry official who spoke anonymously told Newsis the equipment was airlifted "out of concern for clashes" with residents and activist groups. The airlift operation will take more time than transporting materials by truck, the official added.
The THAAD base will include two accommodations, one for U.S. troops and a second facility shared between South Korean and U.S. soldiers, according to Yonhap.
Renovations will be completed by the end of the year, authorities said.
"Last year, water leaks in the accommodation roofs were repaired, and water treatment facilities were replaced," the ministry official said, according to Yonhap. "This time the dilapidated and cramped accommodation will be repaired to improve the living conditions of the soldiers stationed there."
The facilities will add locker rooms for troops, new showers and fireproof walls.
The THAAD system was deployed to the base starting in 2017. Trucks carrying equipment often encountered protesters who blocked roads and clashed with police. More than 10 people were injured during confrontations, according to Newsis.
THAAD not only intercepts short-range and midrange ballistic missiles, but also collects data on North Korean midrange missiles.
The U.S. missile defense system occupies about 80,000 square meters of a former golf course that covered about 320,000 square meters of land, which the South Korean government acquired from conglomerate Lotte in 2016.
North Korea has conducted three tests of missiles and rocket systems in the past week.