Members of more than 100 South Korean civil organisations gathered near the US embassy in Seoul on Friday to protest against the "US-Iran war" and their country's potential cooperation with the US military in the embattled region, a Sputnik correspondent reported.
According to the report, people came with placards and banners reading "No to US-Iran war," "Peace," and "South Korea should not partake in US' military actions," as well as listing all military conflicts the US is involved in accompanied with casualty statistics.
미국의 전쟁 행위 규탄과 한국군 파병 반대 기자회견— 한국여성단체연합 (@kwau38) January 10, 2020
No War on IRAN (1/10 오전 11시, 주한미군 대사관 앞)
여성연합은 107개 시민사회단체와 함께 이란의 솔레이마니 사령관 등을 살해한 미국의 전행 행위를 규탄하고 한국군 호르무츠해 파병을 반대하는 기자회견을 개최했습니다. pic.twitter.com/tGmGAJUbFS
Despite the cold weather, protesters lay on the ground in silence for several minutes to depict victims of war.
They also criticised the US ambassador to Seoul, Harry Harris, for improper conduct and openly pressuring the South Korean authorities.
Amid a series of attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman and Hormuz Strait last year, the US proposed establishing an international coalition of patrol ships in the area to ensure safe maritime passage. As other countries started to steadily join in, South Korea announced in the fall that it was considering sending troops to the region at the start of 2020.
On Monday, the South Korean Defence Ministry said it was looking into all possible options but had not yet made a final decision. The next day, Ambassador Harris said in an interview with South Korea's KBS broadcaster that Washington had asked Seoul to consider sending troops to the gulf.
The situation in the Middle East worsened significantly over the last week as the US and Iran exchanged a series of airstrikes against each other's positions in Iraq. The US made the first move, killing one of Iran's most prominent military figures, Gen. Qasem Soleimani, in Baghdad on 3 January to which Tehran responded by attacking US bases in Iraq on Wednesday. That same day, a commercial Ukraine-bound airplane crashed in Tehran, killing all 176 people on board. It is now feared, according to the US and its allies, that the Iranian military shot down the plane.