MPs defy president with China visit
A GROUP of South Korean opposition lawmakers defied President Park Geun-hye and left for China yesterday to discuss the deployment of an American anti-missile system that has opened a damaging rift between Seoul and Beijing.
Ms Park had urged the lawmakers to scrap their trip, arguing that it would boost China’s opposition to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system and deepen divisions in South Korea over the issue.
Seoul’s decision to host a THAAD battery, to counter a growing threat from North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, has been condemned by China as a threat to its own security interests and to regional stability.
The ongoing row is threatening to undo the substantial effort Ms Park has put into strengthening ties with China, which is not only South Korea’s largest trade partner but also the key player in curbing North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
Kim Young-ho, one of the six lawmakers from the main opposition Minjoo Party travelling to Beijing, said their sole motivation was to calm the situation.
“We are visiting with the hope of offering at least a little warmth to the icy Seoul-Beijing ties,” Mr Kim was quoted as saying by the Yonhap news agency before leaving Seoul.
But Ms Park said the visit would be counter-productive and suggested the MPs were being irresponsibly disloyal.
THAAD has been the subject of domestic protests in South Korea. –
Kim Young-Ho, a lawmaker from South Korea’s main opposition Minjoo Party, left for China yesterday.