The agricultural area around Seongju is deeply conservative, and historically very supportive of the US military presence in South Korea and hostility against the north. These days, however, the locals are out in force, yelling “yankee, go home” and displaying banners panning US militarism.
So what happened? The THAAD, America’s missile defense system, is being deployed in the area, which being far south of the capital of Seoul had long considered itself very distance from any potential war. With the presence of THAAD, they are now part of the front lines, and almost certainly an early target if a war breaks out.
That, paired with growing international concern that President Trump might well attack North Korea at any moment, precipitating such a war, is making the situation look a lot different for local farmers. A mass deployment of South Korean police to crack down on their protests also isn’t sitting well.
But perhaps the most galling aspect of the whole thing was President Trump’s suggestion that South Korea should be made to pay for the THAAD system, which they don’t want in the first place. Obviously this isn’t happening, but the very suggestion just added to the idea that this is America’s war of choice being imposed on the Korean Peninsula.
This is a problem that a number of politicians, including Presidential front-runner Moon Jae-in, have been complaining about for awhile. Growing awareness of the problem among locals across South Korea seems like it will further push the government against the Trump Administration’s talk of action.