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How an American missile shield is spoiling S.Korea's tourism industry

12 Jul 2017 | By Abheet Sethi

South Korea's tourism body has predicted a 27% drop in foreign tourists to the country this year, compared to 2016.

The grim prediction comes after China banned travel companies from selling package tours to South Korea to protest Seoul's decision to allow the US to deploy its THAAD anti-missile defense system in its territory.

Chinese nationals constitute 47% of all tourists entering South Korea.

In context: Chinese ban leads to S.Korean tourism industry's decline

THAADWhat is THAAD?

THAAD is the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, which seeks to defend a particular area from incoming ballistic missiles.

The system consists of a radar, which detects incoming missiles; a command and control center which tracks the missile; and the projectile which is launched to intercept the missile & destroy it in its terminal-phase.

Each system can be used to intercept multiple incoming targets.

PyongyangNorth Korea's missile tests and threats

North Korea's missile tests have been a cause for concern to the US and its allies like South Korea and Japan. The North's testing of a nuclear weapon last year further exacerbated tensions.

The US placed THAAD systems in Guam and Hawaii to deter incoming North Korean missiles.

However, THAAD in South Korea seeks to protect Seoul and Japan as well.

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OppositionChina, Russia against THAAD deployment

Though THAAD is a terminal phase interceptor, THAAD's radars can collect information about enemy ballistic missiles, which it can then relay to NATO and Washington.

China is opposed to its deployment in the Korean peninsula, as it gives the US a strategic advantage over China in the region.

Russia has been opposed to similar plans to deploy the system in Europe.

12 Jul 2017How an American missile shield is spoiling S.Korea's tourism industry

DetailsSouth Korea's tourism industry could enter long term depression

The 27% drop translates to 4.7 million fewer foreign tourists.

South Korea experienced double digit growth in tourist numbers in January and February this year but this has declined in every subsequent month.

May witnessed a 34.5% drop in tourist numbers compared to last year.

"With the current trend, South Korea's tourism industry could enter a long-term depression," a tourism official said.