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Military to announce golf course as new THAAD site this week

All Headlines 09:20 September 25, 2016

SEOUL, Sept. 25 (Yonhap) -- The militaries of South Korea and the United States are expected to announce a golf course as the new site for an advanced American antimissile system this week, a defense official here said Sunday.

According to the defense ministry official, evaluations for three candidate sites to host the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in Seongju County, located in the southeastern part of the nation, "are virtually complete." The announcement will likely be made before the end of September after the military briefs Seongju residents on its decision.

Lotte Skyhill Country Club in Seongju (Courtesy of Lotte Skyhill)

The site may be announced after parliamentary audits into the defense ministry and the Joint Chiefs of Staff are wrapped up by Wednesday.

The two allies had earlier picked Seongsan artillery base but began reviewing three candidate sites for an alternative host after local residents demanded a switch.

According to defense sources, Lotte Skyhill Country Club in Seongju will be selected. Located 18 kilometers north of the Seongju County center, the golf course sits 680 meters above sea level, about 300 m higher than the artillery base.

It's also more isolated than the artillery base from residential areas and could alleviate concerns that THAAD's radar would pose major health problems for local residents.

The golf course, however, will likely face opposition from the adjacent town of Gimcheon, since the radar would be pointing toward the city. Gimcheon residents have already threatened "a full-scale protest" if the golf course is selected.

Another hurdle for the defense officials will be the purchase of the golf course. Business conglomerate Lotte owns the country club, whose price tag will likely touch 100 billion won (US$90.6 million). Securing the budget to make the acquisition will require parliamentary approval.

The government will apply six principles -- operational effectiveness, residents' health concerns, infrastructure, overall safety considerations, construction time and cost, and the preparation period for installation -- to select an alternative site, the ministry previously said.


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