Lotte Group, which is to provide the site for South Korea to host an advanced US missile defense system, on Friday deferred a final decision on accepting a government-proposed land exchange.
Group officials said the board of directors for Lotte International, the owner company of the golf course picked as the site, met for two hours to review exchanging the lot for land near Seoul. There was no decision from the meeting, they said. There was also no announcement of a second meeting.
"The issue is extremely sensitive, and there are many things to review, such as feasibility and the value of the land involved, so there was no conclusion from a single meeting," a group official said. "I believe there will be a number of board meetings on the matter for continuous review."
The government in October picked Lotte's golf club in Seongju, a rural county in the country's southeast, to install the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system. The conglomerate would in exchange receive a plot of land in Namyangju, just east of Seoul, currently belonging to the military.
The 1.48 million-square-meter golf course has a 85 billion-won
($74 million) book value but 45 billion won in state appraisal.
The Namyangju land owned by the military, 200,000 square meters, is valued at 140 billion won on the books. The government is expected to offer a part of the Namyangju plot to balance the value.
The THAAD deployment, highly controversial in the country, has wrought problems for Lotte, which operates big businesses in China.
Beijing fiercely opposes the deployment, charging that the missile shield system is a security threat to China and the region.
Lotte delayed the decision as US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was visiting Seoul. Mattis and his South Korean counterpart Han Min-koo in their talks Friday agreed to aim for THAAD becoming operational in South Korea within this year. (Yonhap)