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South Koreans light giant border Christmas tree

South Korea let Christian groups light the tower, which the North views as propaganda warfare.

AFP/Getty Images

South Korea let Christian groups light the tower, which the North views as propaganda warfare.

GIMPO, South Korea — South Koreans have lighted a Christmas tree-shaped tower near the tense border with North Korea for the first time in two years after North Korea’s rocket launch.

Seoul’s Defense Ministry said Sunday that it allowed Christian groups to light the massive steel tower Saturday. It is to stay lighted until Jan. 2.

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Pyongyang views the tower as propaganda warfare, though it has not responded to this year’s lighting.

The lighting came 10 days after North Korea placed a satellite into orbit aboard a long-range rocket. South Korea and the United States say the launch was a test of banned ballistic missile technology.

The tree wasn’t lighted last year after officials asked Christians to refrain from doing so to avoid tension following the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

The Dec. 12 launch of a long-range rocket put the country’s first satellite in orbit. North Korean testing of ballistic missiles is banned under UN Security Council resolutions.

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