[EDITORIALS]Anti-U.S. activists to blameForce was used in Pyeongtaek in southern Gyeonggi Province, the designated area for a transfer of the U.S. military base now located in Seoul. In this area, many illegal actions have been committed by those opposing the relocation. Police raided the Daechuri Elementary School, a makeshift headquarters of the Pan South Korea Solution Committee Against U.S. Base Expansion in Pyeongtaek. The military installed wire fences at the site of the planned relocation.
In the course of the military intervention, police and protesters fought fiercely, leaving dozens of people injured.
The entire responsibility for this violent confrontation lies with the committee. In particular, civic activists who do not live in this region but are strongly protesting against the U.S. presence in South Korea are the core figures.
It is rather fortunate that the administration has completed the eviction by force without leaving anybody dead or seriously injured. But there are some points we need to look at. Anti-U.S. civic groups’ fierce protests were predictable from the beginning. The government should have provided carrots and sticks in order to separate the residents of the area from anti-U.S. activists.
The Blue House, however, just looked on at the situation with folded arms, and the Defense Ministry and police did not know what to do.
As the Defense Ministry admitted, it did not have enough dialogue and contact with residents. Relocation of the U.S. military base to Pyeongtaek is an important project, which is closely related to our security and economy.
In this project, a part of the agreement between South Korea and the United States, we received more than 12 times as much land back from the United States as we gave for the new base. This means we gain more than we lose.
In addition, there is a consensus among South Koreans that we cannot have a foreign military base inside our capital, Seoul, any longer. U.S. bases in the capital are to move to the new facility at Pyeongtaek.
The security environment around our country has become foggy. We have long been confronting the North; we have conflicts with Japan; the U.S.-Japan alliance is strengthening, and Japan and China are becoming reconciled. Under these circumstances, we could be bullied and isolated. The South Korea-U.S. alliance is needed more than ever to strengthen us, and this project is a critical test.
Some Daechuri residents who were compensated for their land resented the eviction by force and reportedly said, “The residents opposing the transfer have been used by civic activists.” The activists should realize that it is an illusion to believe they can achieve their goal by stirring up people while ignoring the opinion of the entire country. The Pan South Korea Solution Committee should look at all these problems and should stop creating chaos in society.