» 12/21/2012 KOREA Korea, Christmas tree returns to border with North by Joseph Yun Li-sun The tradition halted in 2003 on the basis of a cooperation agreement between Seoul and Pyongyang. This year, the outgoing government of Lee Myung-bak grants permission: "At least the border guards will be able to enjoy a little bit of religious freedom."
Seoul (AsiaNews) - After a gap of nine years, the giant Christmas tree is back on
the border between the two Koreas.
outgoing government of Lee Myung-bak, who will be replaced by the newly elected
Park Geun-hye, has granted some Christian churches permission to install the
giant lit tree near the military demarcation line. The
tradition was interrupted in 2003 as part of an agreement on inter-Korean
This was announced by the spokesman of the Ministry of
Defence, Kim Min-seok, who spoke immediately after the announcement of Park's victory:
"The tree will be lit from December 22 to January 2 and will be
illuminated in order to be able to provide guards North of the border at least a
little religious freedom". A Protestant congregation in Seoul will take care of the arrangements.
said "the government wants to continue the tradition that was interrupted
in 2003 as part of a reconciliation agreement with the communist
agreement remained in force despite Pyongyang's
military increasingly pressing provocations: in 2010, some Christian groups had
prepared a huge tower, but that was demolished a year after the death of Kim
is no religious freedom in North
few places of worship open in Pyongyang
"smokescreens", buildings that are shown to the few visitors allowed
in the country where, however, no religions are practiced. The
Christian population was decimated after the division of the peninsula at the
end of the Korean War, and the taking of power by Kim Il-sung. AsiaNews
sources speak of "not more than 200 thousand Catholics" left in