SEOUL, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- Contract between South Korean military and Lotte Group to exchange military land for a golf course to deploy a U.S. missile shield may be delayed, Seoul's defense ministry said Monday.
Defense Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-kyun told a press briefing that there is a possibility for the signing to be postponed though it was originally scheduled to happen in January.
He said the schedule is flexible though administrative process is going on for the contract, in which the military-owned land will be swapped for the Lotte-held golf course.
Seoul and Washington announced a decision in July last year to deploy one Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery in Seongju county in southeastern South Korea by the end of this year.
Amid strong opposition from residents, the South Korean military changed the site into the Lotte-held golf course in the county's far northern region, but it caused outcry from both Seongju people and villagers in Gimcheon city bordering the county.
The spokesman said the valuation of the golf course was completed last week, noting that the Lotte side has yet to approve the final valuation by holding the board of directors' meeting.
A person familiar with the matter told Xinhua that Lotte may refrain from signing the deal as the retail giant relies heavily on Chinese tourists for much of its revenue.
Stores of Lotte Duty Free, South Korea's largest duty free operator, are known to generate over two-thirds of total revenue from Chinese travelers. Lotte is also running department stores in China's major cities.
Lotte was originally scheduled to hold the board of directors' meeting in early January to determine the contract with the South Korean military, but it was postponed on concerns about businesses in China, according to the source.