South Korea lights border Christmas tree

SEOUL, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- South Korea has erected a giant lighted Christmas tree on a hill overlooking the tense border with North Korea for the first time since 2003, authorities said.

The 90-foot tall, lighted tree-shaped tower on Aegibong peak, on the western border with North Korea, was illuminated in a ceremony organized by the Seoul-based Full Gospel Church and attended by about 400 people, Yonhap news agency reported Tuesday.


The annual ritual of lighting the Aegibong Christmas tree had been suspended since 2003 under a reconciliation agreement with the North to end border propaganda activity.

South Korea decided to resume the lighting ritual following a series of North Korean provocations including the March sinking of a South Korean warship which killed 46 sailors and last month's shelling of the South's Yeonpyeong Island that left two marines and two civilians dead.

On Monday, the North's major newspaper warned the South against resuming propaganda activity, saying it could serve as the starting point of a full-scale war.

South Korea's military has been on alert for a possible North Korean attack on the Aegibong tower, authorities said.

"There is always a possibility" of North Korean provocations, South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said.


"We will hand a daring punishment so as to remove the source of artillery fire" if the North attempts to strike the Christmas tree, he said.

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