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China sanctions, hacking threats eclipse South Korea THAAD deployment

By Elizabeth Shim
China sanctions, hacking threats eclipse South Korea THAAD deployment
Chinese hackers and the government in Beijing are unhappy with a South Korea decision to deploy THAAD on peninsula. Sanctions continue to hurt Korean businesses, according to Korean media. Photo by San Zi/EPA

March 7 (UPI) -- A U.S. missile defense system designed to shoot down North Korea projectiles has begun to arrive in parts in South Korea, where it may be deployed as early as April.

The latest development comes as Chinese hackers and the government in Beijing are applying different kinds of pressure against South Korean businesses like the conglomerate Lotte, which has agreed to allow THAAD to be placed on one of its proprietary golf courses in central South Korea.

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The United States confirmed the start of deployment, and South Korean media said THAAD battery installment began on Monday, with some parts flown into an air base in Seoul, the BBC reported.

Unhappy with the deployment, China is believed to have taken various retaliatory measures against South Korean companies in response to the joint U.S.-South Korea decision.

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Representatives of South Korean online gaming companies have said they may have been the targets of the latest Chinese sanctions, Yonhap reported Tuesday.

Chinese Internet giant Tencent reportedly postponed a marketing event in Seoul, creating an inconvenience for its South Korea partner.

A South Korean gaming firm representative also told Yonhap that Chinese officials told its South Korean managers in China that new licenses would not be issued but did not provide reasons.

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Midsize South Korean gaming firms are more likely to be affected by Chinese sanctions than bigger enterprises that partner with Chinese companies and can evade embargoes targeting foreign businesses, according to the report.

South Korea exports about $3.2 billion of games and other "creative content." China, Taiwan and Hong Kong account for about 33 percent of market share.

The South Korean conglomerate Lotte also continues to be the target of official and unofficial sanctions.

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According to South Korean newspaper Herald Business, Chinese hackers took to social network Weibo on Friday to warn Lotte against cooperation on THAAD deployment.

The hackers also uploaded a video on Youku, the Chinese equivalent of YouTube. The video includes a "declaration of war" against South Korea for the THAAD decision.

"We are opposed to war and love peace, but South Korea does not want a peaceful peninsula," the hackers said.

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