PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — Pyeongtaek merchants who say they’re fed up with anti-U.S. protests plan a large rally Saturday to voice support for Camp Humphreys’ eventual expansion and the continued U.S. military presence in South Korea.

Organizers said the rally aims in part to counter recent, violent anti-U.S. protests by activists who oppose the expansion project and want a U.S. military withdrawal.

Under a South Korean-U.S. agreement, the camp is slated to triple in size and become the U.S. military’s chief installation on the peninsula. Much of the recent violence has been in Daechu-ri, a village that borders Camp Humphreys.

“They just say, ‘All the GI go back to the States,’” Kim Ki-ho, president of the Anjung-ri Merchants Association, said of the anti-expansion protesters. The association is sponsoring Saturday’s pro-U.S. rally.

“We don’t want” U.S. forces to leave South Korea, Kim said. “We need American soldiers … to stay in Korea for our … defense from North Korea or China, something like that.”

Kim predicted about 4,000 people would join Saturday’s rally, set for 2 p.m. near the post’s main gate. They include South Korean military veterans, merchants and clergy, and others from 30 to 40 organizations in the Seoul-Pyeongtaek region, he said.

Meanwhile, the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo reported that anti-U.S. groups were weighing protests this weekend in Seoul and Pyeongtaek. Activists were planning a large-scale protest June 11 near Camp Humphreys that would aim to draw 10,000 demonstrators, the newspaper also reported.

On May 14, some 4,000 anti-U.S. protesters converged on the area intent on rallying in Daechu-ri. But phalanxes of riot police blocked key routes to the village.

The expansion project controversy focuses on a 2,328-acre tract of farmland that the South Korean government bought in 2005 so Camp Humphreys could expand. The South Korean government said area residents would have to move out and most did.

But some have fought the eviction orders. Farmers this spring planted a rice crop despite a government ban on farming at the site. Hold-out residents blocked government vehicles and otherwise impeded government efforts to seal off irrigation channels and fence off the area.

The conflict peaked May 4 when the government deployed a massive security force to Daechu-ri and declared the expansion site a restricted-access military zone. South Korean army engineer troops since have set up an 18-mile barrier of concertina razor-wire, water-filled trenches and other obstacles.

The government this week said it would adopt a measured, conciliatory approach in resolving the impasse with the holdout residents. Officials will seek court backing for any evictions, they said.

And the government extended its June deadline for the holdouts to leave the land to the end of October.

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