November 17, 2016 13:11
Lotte Group on Wednesday agreed to hand over a golf course in southwestern Korea so a U.S. Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery can be stationed there.
The Defense Ministry offered a land swap whereby Lotte hands over the Lotte Skyhill Country Club in Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province, which was picked in late September as the site for the THAAD battery, in exchange for a military site in Namyangju, Gyeonggi Province.
If things go on as scheduled, the THAAD battery will be stationed in Seongju between July and September next year.
Lotte chose the plot among a few sites offered by the ministry. The appraised value is W140.2 billion, but the real price would probably be higher (US$1=W1,172).
"Property appraisal is likely to show that the land in Namyangju, which is near Seoul, is more valuable than the golf course in Seongju," a ministry spokesman said. "In that case we’ll hand over only part of the entire 200,000 sq.m to match the value of the golf course."
Once the swap deal is finalized, the U.S. is responsible for designing and building the THAAD base. The Korean government has to build the infrastructure for the base, but the golf course and vicinity already have electricity, mains water access and roads.
The stationing of the THAAD battery will probably come earlier than expected at Washington's urging.
"We’ve been asking the U.S. to station strategic weapons like bombers here since North Korea's fifth nuclear test, and in return Washington asked us to allow the early deployment of the THAAD battery and reach a military intelligence-sharing pact with Tokyo as early as possible," a diplomatic source here said.
"These issues were discussed in a meeting of the foreign and defense ministers of the two countries and the annual Security Consultative Meeting last month."
Meanwhile, U.S. Forces Korea chief Vincent Brooks said in a lecture on Nov. 4 that the THAAD battery to be deployed here will be bigger than the one on Guam.
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