China Blocks Streaming of South Korean Dramas as Part of THAAD Retaliation

More Chinese retaliation for the deployment of a THAAD battery to South Korea:

China has blocked access to newly updated clips of South Korean music and dramas on the country’s online video sharing platforms, sources said Sunday, in an apparent bid to retaliate against Seoul’s move to deploy an advanced U.S. missile defense system.

The move followed China’s decision to prevent South Korean pop stars from appearing on Chinese entertainment programs since October as South Korea decided in July last year to station the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system on its soil.

A website uploading South Korean dramas said on its social media account on Weibo that it will stop updating video clips of South Korean entertainment programs for the time being.

“Everybody should be aware of the reason for this,” it said, hinting at China’s toughened restriction on Korean pop culture, widely known as “hallyu.”  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

Report Says Lotte to Transfer Golf Course for THAAD Deployment to ROK Government Next Week

It looks like next week the deployment of the THAAD battery to South Korea will take one more step closer to becoming a reality with the reported transfer of the golf course owned by the Lotte Group to the ROK government:

THAAD golf course korea

This aerial photo taken on Oct. 27, 2016, shows the golf course in Seongju, 290 kilometers southeast of Seoul, that will host the U.S. missile shield system THAAD, short for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense. The golf course, owned by Lotte Group, was chosen as the final host site in late September.

The Thaad system, in the meanwhile, is set to be deployed in Korea by June at the earliest.

“After the Lotte Corporation holds a board meeting on Monday, it will likely sign a contract with the National Defense Ministry on Tuesday [to swap land for the Thaad deployment],” said a ministry official.

The two parties agreed in November to swap the Lotte Skyhill Seongju Country Club in Seongju County, North Gyeongsang, for government land in Namyangju, Gyeonggi. The Thaad system will be deployed at the former golf course.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

Picture of the Day: ROK Intelligence Committee Calls for THAAD Deployment

Calling for THAAD deployment

Rep. Lee Cheol-woo, chairman of the National Assembly’s intelligence committee; Kim Kwan-yong, governor of North Gyeongsang Province; and Rep. Lee Wan-young of the ruling Liberty Korea Party (L to R) call for the deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system, dubbed “the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD),” on the country’s soil during a news conference in Seoul on Feb. 16, 2017. The main opposition Democratic Party opposes the deployment. (Yonhap)

Picture of the Day: Pro-THAAD Civic Group Protests In Front of Chinese Embassy

Protest against China's THAAD retaliation

Members from conservative civic organizations calls for China to stop retaliatory steps against South Korea’s planned deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system, dubbed “the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD),” on its soil in a protest in front of the Chinese Embassy in Seoul on Feb. 15, 2017. (Yonhap)

Report Claims THAAD Will Be Exercised As Part of Key Resolve

KBS is reporting that the highly controversial THAAD battery will be part of the simulated portion of March’s Key Resolve exercise between the US and ROK militaries:

Anchor: South Korea and the U.S. will stage a simulation of THAAD missile interception during the annual Key Resolve military exercise next month. The allied forces are also expected to see the participation of strategic assets such as the B-1B and B-52 strategic bombers.
Our Bae Joo-yon has more.

Report: South Korea and the U.S. are said to be planning to apply the “4D” operational concept in their annual Key Resolve military exercise next month.

During the Security Consultative Meeting in 2015, defense chiefs of South Korea and the U.S. approved the 4D operational concept, to ‘detect, disrupt, destroy and defend’ against North Korean nuclear and biochemical missile threats.

While initializing the preventive and preemptive strike drill, the allied forces
will stage a simulation drill to shoot down an incoming North Korean missile with a THAAD battery.  [KBS World Radio]

You can read more at the link.

Picture of the Day: More THAAD Retaliation from China?

Empty cruise quay due apparently to THAAD retaliation

A makeshift pier for a cruise ship at the port of Incheon, west of Seoul, is vacant on Feb. 7, 2017, although the 114,000-ton cruise ship Costa Serena carrying Chinese tourists was originally scheduled to enter it. The rupture is apparently attributable to Beijing’s retaliation against Seoul’s decision to deploy the U.S. missile defense system, called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), on its soil by the end of the year. (Yonhap)

Is US Government Rushing THAAD to South Korea Before New President Takes Office?

That is what some are accusing the US of doing:

Patrick Cronin, senior director of the Asia Program at the Center for a New American Security, wrote in his column before the defense ministerial talks, “Secretary Mattis and his Korean counterparts are likely to seek to accelerate the deployment date of the THAAD missile battery, so that it happens prior to the next Korean election.”

After the talks, Seoul’s ministry said the two officials agreed to push for the deployment as planned, but declined to comment on whether the system would be in place before the election.

Park Won-gon, an international relations professor at Handong Global University, said it is significant for the United States to finalize the plan at the earliest possible date as the political situation in South Korea has been unstable with some opposition lawmakers even calling for withdrawing the decision to deploy THAAD.

He said Washington probably sees the possibility for an opposition candidate winning the election, so is rushing to deploy the battery out of concerns that the decision could be overturned by the next government.

“Mattis probably visited South Korea to check the ongoing situation here and make sure of the deployment in accordance with the Trump administration’s plan to advance its global missile defense program to protect against missile attacks from North Korea and Iran,” he said.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.

Secretary Mattis Reaffirms that North Korea is the Only Reason THAAD is Deploying to South Korea

The Chinese and the Russians both know the THAAD system is no threat to them, they are just using this as a way to create a wedge in the US-ROK alliance.  With a left wing candidate likely winning the upcoming ROK presidency if the impeachment of President Park is upheld it will be interesting to see what happens with the planned deployment of THAAD:

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis answers questions from reporters during a flight to South Korea. Photo courtesy of the Defense Department.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that none other than North Korea needs to worry about the planned deployment of the U.S. THAAD missile defense system in South Korea.

Mattis, who arrived in Seoul on his first overseas trip since taking office, made the remark to reporters traveling together with him on the plane, stressing THAAD is a defensive system, according to a transcript provided by the Pentagon.

“There’s only one reason that we even have this under discussion right now, and that is North Korea’s activities,” Mattis said. “THAAD is for defense of our allies’ people, of our troops who are committed to their defense.”

“Were it not for the provocative behavior of North Korea we would have no need for THAAD out here. There’s no other nation that needs to be concerned about THAAD other than North Korea,” he said.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

Ban Ki-moon Advocates for Deployment of THAAD to South Korea

Likely ROK presidential candidate Ban Ki-moon is differentiating himself from his rivals by strongly back the deployment of the THAAD missile defense system to South Korea:

Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, center, on Sunday examines the wreckage of the ill-fated corvette Cheonan on display at the Navy’s 2nd Fleet Command in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi. [YONHAP]

Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon threw his weight behind the installation of a U.S. advanced missile defense system on Sunday in a move to woo security-sensitive conservatives in what is seen as his journey toward the Blue House.

During his visit to the Navy’s 2nd Fleet Command in Pyeongtaek in Gyeonggi, 60 kilometers (37 miles) south of Seoul, the former UN chief said Seoul needs to set up the U.S.-made missile defense system on its soil to protect itself from North Korea’s provocations, adding the missile was purely defense in nature, a remark apparently intended to appease Beijing’s anger toward the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) system in Seongju County, North Gyeongsang, set to be complete by the end of this year.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.

Japan Signaling It May Want Its Own THAAD System As Well

It looks like Japan is thinking of introducing their own THAAD system as well:

Japan’s Kyodo news agency reports the government may be following in South Korea’s footsteps on deploying U.S.-provided THAAD missile defense.

Kyodo says Tokyo will soon set up a THAAD review committee to examine the system in detail.

Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada visited a THAAD unit on Guam Friday and was briefed by U.S. officials.

She says there’s no concrete plan to introduce THAAD quite yet, but warns that North Korea’s missile and nuclear development has entered what she calls a new phase.  [KBS World Radio]