» 12/02/2014, 00.00
Korea, giant Christmas Tree returns to border between North and South
The Seoul government has granted the Christian Council of Korea to turn on the lights of the huge metal structure, topped by a cross, which will be visible up to 10 miles away. On December 23, a church service and the singing of Christmas carols.
- After months of controversy and judicial appeals, the government has granted
the Christian Council of Korea permission to rebuild the huge Christmas tree on
Aegibong peak. The hill, which is directly across the border with the North, is
165 meters high. Considered by some as a tool of "psychological warfare"
with the North, the metal shaft and the cross that surmounts it will be visible
to North Korean people living up to 10 kilometers
from the border.
announcement was made this morning by the Seoul Ministry of Defense, who also guaranteed
"protection" to the Christian faithful who will gather for the lighting
ceremony. The dimensions of the structure are still not clear, "between nine
and 35 meters high." Seoul has not yet decided whether or not to allow the
Christian group to restore the original giant tree, demolished in November
after 43 years.
For officials of the Park Geun-hye government the destruction of the old tree was
"motivated by security reasons. The frame was old and dilapidated. We have
not decided if the new can be as high as the original one or whether it will be
smaller". The lighting ceremony is scheduled for 23 December, when the
members of the Council will gather for a church service and the singing of some
Christmas hymns. The tree will remain lit and visible for two weeks.
Built in 1971 -
at the height of tensions between the two Koreas - the huge frame was switched on
or off according to the highs and lows of political relations between the neighbouring
nations. In 2004, to great fanfare, Seoul
declared that the tree "would be lit up again" because "an
agreement had been reached" with Pyongyang. However in 2010, after
the sinking of the South Korean Cheonan which killed 43 people, the
Christmas lights returned.
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The 30-metre tree will be visible to North Koreans living across the border. Its lights were switched on last night as Christians sang Christmas carols. In the meantime, Seoul launches its most important military drills in years.
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The Seoul government, after 7 years, grants permission to light the three with the cross on its top at Aegibong Peak, a hilly area less than 3 km from the border that separates the two Koreas: It will be visible to the North Korean population. North Korea attacks the "propaganda of the regime."
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