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International relations

South Korea's Chinese-free duty-free shops suffer

Industry lost $533m after anti-missile system angered Chinese

The heavy price for a missile shield.

SEOUL -- The row over South Korea's deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system is hitting the country's duty-free industry hard. Angry Chinese travelers are shunning South Korea, stripping the country's duty-free industry of as much as 600 billion won ($533 million) in lost revenue. The cash-cow is no more, with shops shutting down and new openings being put off.

Hanwha Galleria could close its doors this month. The duty-free shop is in Jeju International Airport, a gateway to Jeju Island, visited by some 3.6 million foreigners last year. About 80% of the travelers were Chinese. The shop's operator, the Hanwha Group, a major South Korean conglomerate, plans to return its operating license to Jeju Airport Corp.

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