South Korea’s defense ministry said Thursday that construction materials and other essential supplies are being delivered to the U.S. THAAD site in Seongju. File Photo by Yonhap/EPA-EFE
May 20 (UPI) -- South Korean protesters clashed with more than 1,000 members of a local police force Thursday at the base for the U.S. missile defense system Terminal High Altitude Area Defense in Seongju.
The large police presence began assembling at the entrance of the THAAD site at about 5:40 a.m. They confronted anti-THAAD activists as U.S. and South Korean troops delivered essential supplies to the base, News 1 reported Thursday.
Eighteen trucks were able to reach the base. South Korea's defense ministry wants to bring in more trucks, the report said.
More than 30 protesters, many of them local residents, had been roped off from coming near the vehicles. Their sit-in early Thursday occurred at a village community hall. The police did not leave the area after the delivery, according to News 1.
Protesters clashed with police, but local reports could not confirm whether injuries occurred on either side.
South Korean authorities said the trucks were carrying construction materials, water and other daily necessities for the soldiers. Last month, activists claimed soldiers were bringing in "THAAD battery upgrades" that "threaten peace on the Korean Peninsula."
Seoul defense ministry spokesman Boo Seung-chan said Thursday that the deliveries were not for weapons upgrades, Newsis reported.
The goods are part of a "plan for construction."
"If you look at the living accommodations there, it is quite substandard for South Korean soldiers, as well as for U.S. soldiers," Boo said.
"To say the deliveries were made because of the [upcoming] U.S.-South Korea summit is inappropriate," he said.
Earlier in the week, Soseong-ri All-Source Situation Room, an anti-THAAD group, said the government was "gifting" the rural area to the United States ahead of the first meeting between President Joe Biden and President Moon Jae-in.
The group said Thursday that protesters were being subjected to "state violence" and being jailed, according to Newsis. Deliveries have taken place April 28, May 14 and Tuesday.
THAAD is designed to intercept intermediate-range ballistic missiles.