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Lotte's Chinese website hacked in protest of U.S. missile defense system

All Headlines 17:19 March 01, 2017

SEOUL, March 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's retail giant Lotte Group said Wednesday that it has suffered a disruption to its Chinese website in what could be a cyberattack by unidentified Chinese hackers in apparent retaliation against its cooperation with the deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system in South Korea.

The website, www.lotte.cn, has remained inaccessible to visitors since Tuesday afternoon.

A Lotte official said the disruption was caused by a virus planted by hackers, citing an analysis of computer security experts.

The apparent hacking attack is the latest backlash Lotte has faced in China following its land swap deal with South Korea's defense ministry for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense battery.

Lotte's Chinese website hacked in protest of U.S. missile defense system - 1

On Tuesday, Lotte International Co., a Lotte unit, signed the deal to hand over a golf course in the southeastern rural city of Seongju for the U.S. missile defense system in return for other land.

South Korea and China have been at odds over the U.S. missile defense system. China has repeatedly expressed opposition against the U.S. missile defense system out of concerns that the deployment could hurt its security interests.

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.

Separately, China's e-commerce giant JD.com Inc. has deleted its section on Lotte Mart, sources said Wednesday.

The Chinese No. 2 online shopping mall had been running a section on Lotte Mart since July last year. The two sides signed a partnership deal in 2015.

The deal had allowed Lotte to sell more household, beauty, fashion and electronics goods to Chinese consumers through JD.com's online shopping site.

Still, JD.com abruptly removed its Lotte section on Tuesday when the Lotte unit signed the land swap deal.

JD.com told Lotte that the deletion was caused by a technical glitch, according to a Lotte official.

On Sunday, about 10 Chinese people held a rally in front of Lotte Mart in Jilin province in northeast China in protest of Lotte's land swap for the U.S. missile defense system.

Lotte's Chinese website hacked in protest of U.S. missile defense system - 2

The protesters held a red placard that read, "Lotte issued a declaration of war against China and Lotte should leave China right now if it supports" the U.S. missile defense system.

"Chinese consumers should become the main force in teaching Seoul a lesson, punishing the nation through the power of the market," China's Global Times said in an editorial on Wednesday.

Lotte, the fifth-largest family-run conglomerate in South Korea, is the one with the highest exposure to China. It first tapped the world's second-largest economy in 1994, and now has a combined workforce of about 20,000 in 24 subsidiaries raking in some 3 trillion won (US$2.64 billion) in annual sales, according to the group's data.

entropy@yna.co.kr
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