Protesters Bellow ‘U.S. Out Of Korea’ Outside White House
Above Photo: JARED FELDSCHREIBER. Ji Gephardt [L] and Angie Kim [R] join fellow like-minded protesters during a rally against perceived U.S. militarism in Korea.
Note: The article says “just blocks away,” in fact it was as close as we could get. The police are closing off much larger areas around the White House to prevent protests from getting to close and being heard. Since Trump has been elected protests have been pushed further away from the White House than we have seen before. That is why it is very important for protests like these to be shared on social media. President Moon needs to know there are people in the US who do not want war, want THAAD removed and want North and South Korea working together. Part of making protests successful is readers sharing them widely on social media, email lists and wherever they can. KZ
Approximately 20 demonstrators rallied at Lafayette Park Friday afternoon to protest U.S. involvement in Korea, just as President Moon Jae-In met with his counterpart, Donald Trump in the Oval Office. The protesters uniformly agreed that it is continued U.S. presence and bellicose language coming out of Washington, which has destroyed prospects for peace in Korea.
“[President Moon] was elected [in May] with a mandate to change course. He said he would during the election campaign,” Sarah Sloan, with the anti-war Answer Coalition, told me. “We’re saying: ‘live up to it.’ I think he has different pressures on him. We oppose the deployment of THAAD – Terminal High Altitude Area Defense – [which has been deployed in South Korea].”
THAAD is an advanced system designed to intercept short, medium, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles during their terminal flight phase. It is believed to be capable of intercepting North Korea’s intermediate-range ballistic missiles, as it is equipped with long-range radar. In July 2016, military officials in South Korea and the U.S. agreed to deploy it to counter threats.
“It’s a long struggle as it won’t be over until they remove the missile system from their country,” continued Sloan. “The THAAD system isn’t set up to intercept missiles from North Korea,” insisting that its deployment in South Korea has more to do with competing with China for hegemony in the region. For its part, Beijing called for an immediate stop to the deployment of THAAD in May, saying it is protecting its interests, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
“The U.S. has 37,000 troops sitting right on their border,” added Sloan. “If the Korean people were actually able to determine their own destiny, there would have been talks [already], which would lead to reconciliation. The Korean people should determine their own destiny, and the threat actually originates from [the U.S.]”
Angie Kim, one of the rally’s organizers, told me of the National Security Law in South Korea that forces ‘prisoners of conscience’ to languish in Seoul’s jails. Calls for peace and reunification with North Korea could carry a lengthy prison sentence. Activists must campaign for their release, she said.
Amidst the bellowing chants of “U.S.A…. out of Korea,” I spoke to Ji Gephardt, an 80-year-old pacifist born in Pyongyang. She has lived in America for over 60 years, and her husband was a navy commander who fought in World War II.
“I stood against war since I was 12-years-old,” Gephardt told me. “I always stand against war; anywhere, any kind of destruction, because it’s destroying the world.”
“The U.S. is the problem,” Gephardt flatly said, citing other entanglements, like wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. Gephardt said she is worried that “[Moon] is surrounded by powerful forces, which is controlled by the CIA, and the Japanese CIA. The Japanese are very much against Korean peace because they occupied Korea once before. They want to restore [dominance] in the region.”
So you don’t, in any way, feel Kim Jung Un is a legitimate threat?
‘No – the U.S. is taunting him,” she said. “The CIA sent secret agents all the time to kill him. They [constantly] send in agents, but we don’t hear about that.”
So what’s the solution for regional stability?
“Peace is the solution. [Moon] has to stop doing joint military, nuclear exercises, with the U.S., and the CIA must stop making threats to try and kill Kim Jung Un.”
President Moon told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies(CSIS) think tank on Friday evening that moves by North Korea that could create conditions for dialogue must include a freeze on its nuclear and missile tests, and the release of three Americans. “President Trump – placing the top priority on resolving the North Korean nuclear and missile issues in U.S. foreign policy – is something no other U.S. government has done. This fact raises the possibility of resolving the North Korean nuclear issue. I plan to seize such a moment with all my efforts,” he said.
South Korea is a long-standing American ally, but the U.S. President has spoken harshly about U.S. trade imbalances and threatened to tear up the bilateral trade pact.
“We will do more to remove barriers to reciprocal trade and market access,” Trump said in his statement, adding that he was encouraged by Moon’s assurances that he will seek a level playing field for American workers and businesses.
Before leaving the U.S., Moon met with Congress, and expressed his gratitude for supporting the alliance.
“I believe the alliance will go beyond focusing merely on security on the peninsula and expand to a comprehensive strategic one to deal with international challenges together such as terrorism. I request your continuous support,” said Moon.
Also, during his trip to Washington, President Moon paid his respects to U.S. veterans of the Korean War and other service members who sacrificed their lives.
“The Republic of Korea remembers you and your parents’ sacrifice and dedication. Its memory of gratitude and respect will continue forever,” he said. Over million U.S. servicemen served in the Korean War, and over 54,000 deaths were reported, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.