Lotte Group, South Korea’s fifth-largest conglomerate has agreed a land swap deal with the government that will allow the US to host the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system on South Korean soil, defense ministry officials announced on Monday.
The ministry official said the signing ceremony would happen as early as Tuesday, adding that more details would be announced separately after the signing.
Lotte International, a Lotte Group unit possessing the golf course, held the board meeting to decide on whether give a green light to the deal to exchange military land for the golf course in southeast South Korea.
Seoul and Washington agreed in July last year to deploy one THAAD battery to the golf course in Seongju county, North Gyeongsang province by the end of this year.
The land swap deal was initially scheduled to be inked in January, but it was delayed amid strong oppositions at home and abroad. On Feb. 3, Lotte held a board meeting, in which it failed to approve the contract.
The signing is forecast to speed up the remaining procedures for the THAAD deployment in South Korean soil.
The procedures include South Korea’s provision of the golf course to the U.S. military, the general drawing of the base, the evaluation of environmental effects and the construction.
Lotte approved the land exchange deal despite strong objections from residents living in the Seongju county and the Gimcheon city which borders the county and faces the golf course.
The residents have held candlelit rallies every night since the THAAD deployment decision, protesting against the government that failed to collect their opinion in advance.
Parliamentary and public objections have been harsh as the THAAD is not aimed to shoot down missiles from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), but to make South Korea become part of the U.S. missile defense networking in Northeast Asia.
DPRK missiles targeting South Korea fly at an altitude of less than 40 km. THAAD is designed to intercept missiles at an altitude of 40-150 km.
The THAAD’s X-band radar can peer deep into the territories of neighboring countries including China and Russia, damaging security interests of the two countries and breaking regional balance.
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