Noh Young-min, set to leave for China next month, said that he will do his utmost to remove any misunderstandings that China has about the armament called THAAD by meeting Chinese leaders and experts.
"I think that China will believe if we explain with sincerity that it was installed to defend against North Korea's nuclear and missile threats and that it is absolutely not targeting China," Noh told reporters during a luncheon meeting.
"We have to do all we can to make them believe it. I think we should make both political and technological efforts (on the matter)," he added.
South Korea-China ties have been strained since Seoul announced in July last year it would allow the United States to deploy a THAAD battery on its soil in a bid to better counter North Korea's growing missile threats.
China has strongly opposed the move, claiming that it hurts its strategic security interests and demanded its withdrawal. It has taken what is presumed to be many retaliatory steps against South Korean goods and companies.
"The Chinese people have lots of misunderstandings about THAAD," he said. "We need to make efforts to remove such misunderstandings, and it is also important to build relations with Chinese leaders and experts on Korea and have talks with them over the issue."
Noh also said that a summit between the leaders of the two countries will help much in mending the ties, adding that efforts are under way to make it happen as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, with regard to Korean firms in China being hard hit by the fallout of the feuds over THAAD, Noh admitted that things have become quite tough but asked for their stepped-up efforts to tide over the current challenge.
"It is of course our share of the responsibility to provide better outside (business) conditions and protect them from any unfair treatment ... But it is also their share of responsibility to make self-rescue efforts."
He, however, apparently took issue with the argument that THAAD is the only reason for South Korean companies' exit from China, including Lotte and E-Mart, saying that there might be multiple and more complicated reasons behind it.
"For example, E-Mart decided to leave China, but it has nothing to do with THAAD," he said. "Even before the controversy erupted, it decided to leave and had been in talks to sell off its stores."
Recently, South Korea's hypermarket chain E-Mart also reached a deal to sell five stores in China, effectively ending its 20-year presence in the market.
Lotte, in particular, has been regarded as a major target for China's retaliation since it had a land-swap deal with the Seoul government for the missile shield system. It is in talks to sell its discount stores in China now. (Yonhap)