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Festive lights spark border row

Pyongyang thinks Christmas decorations constitute 'psychological warfare'

Festive lights spark border row
Last year's decorations on the tower

December 9, 2011

An alliance of religious groups yesterday sided with North Korea over a proposal to decorate a tower for Christmas near the disputed border with the South. The Committee Against Lighting on Aegibong Hill, an association of 28 religious and civic groups in Gimpo, agreed with Pyongyang's assertion that the festooned tower could be the flashpoint for an armed clash, criticizing it as provocative “psychological warfare”. At a press conference in front of the Ministry of Defense in Seoul, the committee said the tower would cause more conflicts between North and South Korea. On November 28, it was reported that for the second consecutive year, the defense ministry would allow a request from a Protestant church to light up the tower. Built in 1954 after the Korean War (1950-53), the 30-meter-high tower is set on the 150-meter high Aegibong hill and can be seen as far away as Kaesong (Gaeseong) in North Korea across the border. Reverend Lee, pastor of the DMZ Peace Church, argued that a Christmas tree should be “for peace, not for war.” But a spokesman for the Yoido Full Gospel Church, which put up the lights last year, said they will push ahead with the plan, adding that a lighting-up ceremony will take place on December 23.  
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