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The interview came after South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said that the decision to deploy the THAAD system in South Korea is linked to the build-up of North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

The recent ruling by an global tribunal on the South China Sea issue is likely to pose yet another diplomatic conundrum for South Korea as a regional territorial dispute could drive up tension between China and the USA, two countries that Seoul maintains close ties with. South Korea said the projectile launched successfully but appeared to have failed in early flight.

More than 5,000 people protested in Seongju on Wednesday. Some 3,000 residents in nearby Chilgok County demonstrated against THAAD on Saturday.

With the selection of the site, the allies will start the legal process to officially turn over the existing base in Seongju to U.S. Forces Korea for the THAAD deployment, Yoo said. The letters read "Oppose, Deploy the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD".

North Korea conducted its latest test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) a day after the announcement of the THAAD deployment.

People walk past a television screen at a railway station in Seoul showing file footage of a North Korean missile launch.

"As the United States will not accept our demand for the immediate withdrawal of the sanctions measure, we will be taking corresponding actions in steps", KCNA said.

Geun-hye is said to have added that the THAAD system was purely aimed at countering the threat from the North, in an apparent message to Beijing. "But you have to look across the whole spectrum of threats", said Daniel Pinkston, a North Korea security analyst and lecturer in worldwide relations at Troy University in Seoul. "But focus has shifted to Seongju, where the Hawk missile air defense system is now stationed". No other details were given, although US military bases are in nearby areas.

Analysts say Beijing is concerned about THAAD's radar capability to monitor Chinese military installations and about Washington's increasing military strength in the region.

With the two global powers at odds, observers here worry that South Korea could face an awkward situation given its close ties with both in many areas ranging from national security to trade.

Yesterday, China urged the United States and South Korea to halt the deployment.

The two countries now have a free trade pact that permits tariff free exports on a range of goods.

In comments to reporters, Kirby called on North Korea "to refrain from actions and rhetoric that only further raise tensions in the region", but said he would not comment on the details of diplomatic exchanges.

THAAD proponents argue that South Korea can not compromise on its national security.

North Korea says it is closing one of its last lines of communication with the United States.

Specifically, North Korea's official KCNA news agency announced that the country would stop using the channel at the United Nations that's set up for US and Pyongyang's diplomats to talk, since the two countries don't have direct diplomatic relations.


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