"In the national interest, say 'no' to Lotte!" So ran a front-page editorial in the state-run China Youth Daily urging Chinese citizens to boycott the South Korean conglomerate Lotte. That was in spring of this year.

The editorial ran in response to the use of a Lotte-owned golf course as the base site in South Korea for the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, a U.S. anti-ballistic missile defense system capable of continuously monitoring North Korea by radar. Suspicious that it could also be used to monitor China's defense readiness, Beijing pressured Seoul to abandon its plans to deploy the system. Nevertheless, the administration of then-President Park Geun-hye went ahead with its deployment.

Since then, China has felt aggrieved. Lotte, which provided land for the THAAD base, became the target of Chinese outrage. A majority of Lotte supermarkets in China were ordered to suspend their operations, ostensibly due to fire and building code violations. Chinese demonstrators descended upon Lotte supermarkets and jeered at anyone who attempted to enter the stores. Ultimately, 87 of the 112 Lotte supermarkets in China were forced to shut down. Lotte subsequently decided to sell off all of its stores in China, and commissioned Goldman Sachs to take care of the aftermath.