12/23/2015, 00.00
KOREA
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Korea, a sign of peace: huge Christmas tree on the border with the North "will not be turned on"

The metal structure, 30 meters high and visible for 10 kilometers, has for years been a source of conflict between the two nations. On or off depending on the level of tension on the peninsula, it is more a political than a religious symbol. The agreement reached between the Protestant groups "a gesture of peace and harmony".

Seoul (AsiaNews) - The huge metal Christmas tree the border between the two Koreas this year will not be turned on. The decision was reached by the various Protestant groups in the South who run the facility. Considered a propaganda tool, the tree has always sparked protests of the regime in the North. The decision is "a gesture of peace and harmony".

A leader of the Christian Party, the Rev. Kim Young-il, said: "We will not be lighting up the tower at Aegi Peak until the day when we can light it together with the North". Considered a "hawk" in the inter-Korean dialogue, Kim made it clear that the choice "does not mean a waiver, but only a sign of good will." After the announcement, the less intransigent Christian groups thanked him for the decision: "A gesture of harmony."

The huge Christmas tree stands on the peak of Aegibong. The hill overlooking the border with the North, is 165 meters high. Considered by some as a tool of "psychological warfare" with the North, the shaft and the metallic cross that surmounts it are visible to people living up to 10 kilometers from the border in the North Korean.

Built in 1971 – at the height of antagonism between the two Koreas - the huge frame was switched on and off, according to the level of tensions between the government in Seoul and regime. In 2004, with much publicity, Seoul declared that the tree "would never be lit up again" because "it had reached an agreement" with Pyongyang. However in 2010, after the sinking of the South Korean vessel the Cheonan which killed 43 people, the Christmas lights returned to light the sky.

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