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[SEOUL] South Korea's Lotte Group said on Monday four of its retail stores in China were closed after inspections by authorities, as Seoul protests at discriminating action by China after Lotte agreed to provide land for a US missile defence system.
A Lotte Mart spokesman said the four stores, in Dandong, Changzhou and other locations, were closed last week after the inspections, but could not provide further details. As of January, Lotte Mart had about 115 stores in China.
Shares in Lotte Shopping, where Lotte Mart is a business division, fell 3.5 per cent as of 0019 GMT compared to 0.4 per cent drop in the wider market.
The retail closures come after affiliate Lotte International last week approved a South Korean land swap to allow the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (Thaad) system, which is being installed in response to North Korea's missile threat.
Earlier on Monday, South Korea's military said North Korea fired an unidentified projectile from its Tongchang-ri region, where a missile base is located.
China has objected to the deployment of the missile system, saying it has a radar capable of penetrating Chinese territory.
South Korean media said last week that Chinese government officials had given verbal guidance to tour operators in China to stop selling trips to South Korea, only days after the Lotte land swap.
The Lotte's duty free operator, Lotte Duty Free, last Thursday said a cyber attack using Chinese internet protocol (IP) addresses had crashed its website. It is currently back online.
The South Korean government on Sunday protested what it called discriminating action by China towards South Korean companies. "We will act accordingly to international law against any actions that violate policies of the World Trade Organization (WTO) or the free trade agreement between South Korea and China," said South Korea Trade Minister Joo Hyung Hwan.