Asia

South Koreans shave heads in protest at Thaad anti-missile system

Residents shave in protest in park in Seongju Image copyright AFP
Image caption Locals - many of them farmers - had their heads shaved as part of Monday's protests

More than 900 South Koreans have shaved their heads in a show of protest at the US anti-missile system to be installed in the south-eastern Seongju region.

Residents have expressed opposition to the plan, saying it makes Seongju a potential target.

The US and South Korea decided to put the system there after months of increasing tensions with North Korea.

North Korea launched its fourth nuclear test this January and has run other missile tests since then.

But residents of Seongju - some 300km (186 miles south of the capital Seoul) - fear they could bear the brunt of retaliation, which North Korea has already threatened. They held signs and chanted "No Thaad!".

The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) system is designed to shoot missiles out of the air.

South Korean president Park Geun-hye said on Monday: "Thaad is a self-defensive measure we've decided to deploy to protect the lives of our people from North Korea's reckless provocations."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption An activist led the crowd in chants of "No THAAD!"
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Residents see the actions as a symbol of their determination
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Earlier protests have involved Confucian scholars in the area and priests

What is the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (Thaad)?

  • Shoots down short- and medium-range ballistic missiles in the terminal phase of their flight
  • Uses hit-to-kill technology - where kinetic energy destroys the incoming warhead
  • Has a range of 200km and can reach an altitude of 150km
  • US has previously deployed it in Guam and Hawaii as a measure against potential attacks from North Korea

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