Uncertainty Dwells Lotte Over THAAD Battery

Olivia Jung, Jan. 17, 2017, 9:25 a.m.

A deal whereby Lotte Group is to hand over a golf course to the government for the deployment of a U.S. Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery has run into trouble amid fears of retaliation from China.

The Defense Ministry on Monday said the signing of the deal is being "delayed." Lotte appears to be dragging its heels because of signs that its business operations stand to suffer.

China fears that the powerful radar that comes with the THAAD battery will be used to monitor its military activities, but Seoul and Washington insist that it will only be trained on North Korea.

Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-kyun said, "We are in the process of signing the land deal, but the timing of the deal is flexible. It was originally scheduled to be signed in January, but there may be delays."

The ministry and Lotte agreed to swap the Lotte Skyhill Country Club in Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province for a military site in Namyangju, Gyeonggi Province, and both sides concluded their studies to assess the price of the properties last week. Moon said Lotte has yet to convene a board meeting to authorize the deal.

A government source said, "Lotte is in trouble over the ongoing crony scandal and its businesses in China are having problems due to the THAAD issue, so it's holding out for any possible changes once President Park Geun-hye steps down."

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