SEOUL (Reuters) – Cyber attacks from China crashed the website of South Korea’s Lotte Duty Free on Thursday, a company official said, as tensions soared between Seoul and Beijing over the deployment of a U.S. missile defence system in South Korea.
The website had been down since 12:00 p.m. (0300 GMT) due to distributed denial-of-service cyber attacks on its server, the official told Reuters, requesting anonymity as the matter was sensitive.
The alleged attacks come after an affiliate company in Lotte Group approved a land swap that will enable South Korea to deploy a U.S. missile defence system, despite strong Chinese objections.
The swap by unlisted Lotte International Co Ltd agreed on Monday allows South Korea to deploy the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system in response to the North Korean missile threat.
But China objects to the deployment of the system, which has a radar capable of penetrating Chinese territory.
China’s official Xinhua news agency said in a commentary late on Monday that China “did not welcome this kind of Lotte”.
“Chinese consumers can absolutely say no to this kind of company and their goods based on considerations of ‘national security’,” it said.
The South Korean government expressed concern on Thursday about calls in China for retaliation against South Korean companies over the planned deployment.
(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Additional reporting by Jack Kim; Editing by Stephen Coates)