Acting South Korean President Hwang Kyo-ahn had a phone conversation with U.S. President Donald Trump on March 7 and discussed the issue of THAAD deployment in South Korea, which the Chinese government is strongly opposed to.
At present, South Korea and the United States are looking to reduce policy uncertainties by speeding up the deployment. In addition, the legitimacy of the deployment has been strengthened since North Korea launched missiles on March 6 while the phone conversation was postponed from last weekend.
On March 7, the Ministry of National Defense of South Korea announced that it started the deployment process by bringing in some equipment such as launch pads. In fact, land preparation and environmental impact assessments in Seongju County, North Gyeongsang Province have yet to be initiated. The unexpected early announcement by the ministry is to deal directly with China’s increasing opposition and complete the process before an early presidential election and regime change in South Korea that could follow the upcoming Constitutional Court ruling on the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye.
According to the Ministry of National Defense, more equipment and personnel are scheduled to be deployed in the following weeks before the missile defense system is put into operation in April. The Constitutional Court ruling is scheduled for this week and the early presidential election can take place in early May or later.
During their phone conversation, the two heads of state agreed with each other to take a hard-line stance against North Korea. U.S. President Donald Trump mentioned very dire consequences with consideration given to additional measures such as secondary boycott and freezing of funds.