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Lotte to close Chinese department stores amid unofficial boycott

South Korean-Japanese conglomerate Lotte Group plans to close its department stores in China amid an unofficial boycott there stemming from South Korea's deployment of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, missile defense battery, for which Lotte sold a golf course to the South Korean government to serve as the site, Chosun Media reported.

Lotte plans to completely close its two malls in Tianjin and three in Weihai, but will continue to operate the hotels, offices, theaters and theme parks in the malls in Shenyang and Chengdu, according to the report.

Citing an unnamed Lotte staffer, the report noted that the leases of the stores up for closure have not yet expired, and the conglomerate is considering selling them.

Lotte opened its first store in Beijing 10 years ago, and at one point planned to expand the number of Chinese department stores to 20 by 2018. It was reported in 2017 that Lotte Shopping Co. Ltd. planned to sell its Lotte Mart stores in China as the business suffered due to the missile row. Lotte was also said to be seeking buyers for its entire Chinese store portfolio.