South Korea's Acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn visited retail giant Lotte Group's landmark skyscraper in Seoul Wednesday as US forces began installing part of a US missile defense system in a southeastern county.
The ostensible purpose of his visit to Lotte World Tower was a safety check on the 123-story building.
But his aide said it was partially intended to encourage Lotte, which has borne the full brunt of China's economic retaliation for the deployment of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery to Korea. The group handed over one of its properties to the Korean military so it can be used as the site for THAAD.
Beijing has strenuously opposed the deployment, arguing THAAD's powerful radar could be used to spy on its military and thus would undermine its strategic security interests. Seoul and Washington contend that THAAD only targets a provocative Pyongyang.
"(Hwang) visited (the skyscraper) to offer encouragement (to the group) as we have felt sorry that the group is suffering large damage due to its decision to cooperate with the government's security policy," an aide to Hwang told Yonhap News Agency, declining to be named.
Hwang toured the building's observation deck and its disaster prevention center.
The acting president asked Lotte officials to ensure the safety of visitors and voiced his hopes that the building will emerge as a world-renowned tourist attraction.
The country's tallest skyscraper opened to the public on April 3. The 555-meter high building consists of offices, a lavish residence and luxury hotel, and is topped with a glass observation deck. (Yonhap)