Until recently, a 65-foot-tall tower that was erected near the DMZ in 1971 and later converted to resemble a Christmas tree, was visible to North Koreans living close to the border.
The tower (and seasonal symbol of Christmas) was repeatedly condemned by the North, who labeled it a “provocative display of psychological warfare.”
In fact, the North Korean government went so far as to threaten to fire shells at the tower in a sense of holiday spirt that would warm the green heart of the Grinch. Or, perhaps, they were upset with the obscene materialism of the Christmas season.
Earlier this year, South Korea’s military took the structure down, arguing that it was no longer safe –though some contend it was an act of appeasement to the north.
Now, the government has changed their mind and granted a Christian group the right to erect the tree once again.
“We accepted the request … to guarantee free religious activities,” Kim Min-seok, South Korea’s defense ministry spokesman, said on Tuesday.
“The tree-lighting ceremony first started out as a religious event in 1971, but it has been considered a tool of psychological warfare against the North as its sparkling lights can be seen from the North Korean side. The tower had been lit annually during the Christmas season until the two Koreas agreed to halt propaganda activities in 2004. But Seoul resumed the event in 2010 upon the North’s torpedoing of the South Korean warship Cheonan that year, though it had often skipped the ceremony so as not to provoke the communist country.”
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