South Korean President Park Geun-hye is defending her decision to deploy a U.S.-built missile defense system on the country's southeastern peninsula, as protests against the plan continue.
Chairing a meeting of the National Security Council Thursday, President Park said North Korea's growing ballistic missile capabilities left the government no choice but to deploy the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, in Seongju county.
The decision has sparked angry protests by residents in Seongju, fearing possible hazards to health and the environment from the radar-based system. Thousands of Seongju residents held a massive demonstration in Seoul Thursday.
Park warned that opposition to over the plan to deploy the THAAD system could lead South Koreans "divided" and "confused," which could play right into North Korea's hands.
North Korea launched three ballistic missiles from the western city of Hwangu early Tuesday that flew between 500 and 600 kilometers before falling into the sea off the east coast of the Korean peninsula. The missile launches came a week after Pyongyang threatened to retaliate against Seoul over the deployment of the THAAD system.