Fire authorities have suspended the operation of Lotte Mart in China's northeastern city of Dandong, officials said Saturday, in what could be the latest pressure on South Korea's retail giant over a U.S. missile defense system.
South Korea's Lotte Group has come under intense fire in China after its unit has agreed to hand over its golf course in the southeastern rural city of Seongju for the installment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense battery.
Fire authorities in Dandong have issued the order on Lotte Mart on the grounds that the discount retailer partially violated the fire services act.
Lotte Mart officials in Dandong were not immediately reached for comment.
In Shenyang, about 10 Chinese held a protest rally in front of Lotte Department store. They held a placard that read, "Lotte, leaves China right now as it supports" the U.S. missile system.
No clash was reported, but Chinese police dispatched two police vehicles each near Lotte Department store and South Korea's Consulate General to prepare against any possible accidents.
A Lotte Department store official said Lotte is making efforts to dispel misunderstandings that Lotte had actually aggressively offered the site for the U.S. missile defense system. The official said there is no way to counter Chinese retaliation.
Earlier this week, Lotte Duty Free suffered disruptions to its website in a distributed denial-of-service attack that Lotte said was traced to a Chinese Internet Protocol address -- the online equivalent of street addresses or phone numbers.
South Korean police have launched an investigation into the case.
China has repeatedly pressed South Korea to drop the plan to host the U.S. missile defense system, with its media and angry citizens threatening retaliation against Lotte and other South Korean firms doing business in China.
China claims the U.S. missile defense system could hurt its security interests. Still, Seoul and Washington have dismissed such concerns, saying the U.S. missile shield is defensive in nature and focuses on North Korea's missile activities. (Yonhap)