We head to Soseongri, a small village nestled in the mountains of Seongju County. There, grandmas and grandpas in the 70s, 80s, and 90s have gone from quietly farming to organizing daily protests and blockades to stop THAAD. THAAD is part of a missile defense system that gives the U.S. the ability to carry out a nuclear first strike.
The region has historically been Koreas conservative stronghold, but with the deployment of THAAD, people are re-evaluating the history theyve been taught their entire lives.
Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), formerly Theater High Altitude Area Defense, is an American anti-ballistic missile defense system designed to shoot down short, medium, and intermediate range ballistic missiles in their terminal phase (descent or reentry) by intercepting with a hit-to-kill approach. THAAD was developed after the experience of Iraq's Scud missile attacks during the Gulf War in 1991. The THAAD interceptor carries no warhead, but relies on its kinetic energy of impact to destroy the incoming missile. A kinetic energy hit minimizes the risk of exploding conventional warhead ballistic missiles, and the warhead of nuclear tipped ballistic missiles will not detonate on a kinetic energy hit.
Originally a United States Army program, THAAD has come under the umbrella of the Missile Defense Agency. The Navy has a similar program, the sea-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, which now has a land component as well ("Aegis ashore"). THAAD was originally scheduled for deployment in 2012, but initial deployment took place in May 2008. THAAD has been deployed in the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and South Korea.
Shin Dong Ok, Head of Soseongri Elders Group
Shi Uh Yeon, Gimcheon resident
Grace Cho, historian and author of Haunting the Korean Diaspora: Shame, Secrecy, and the Forgotten War