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These South Korean Christmas lights are considered "psychological warfare"

The Presbyterian church in Seoul is being decked out in lights from today – a display which North Korea sees essentially as a rude gesture at Pyongyang.

Image: AFP

A SOUTH KOREAN church plans to display Christmas lights near the border with North Korea, military officials said this week, despite concerns about a violent response from Pyongyang.

A Presbyterian church in Seoul will set up the giant display on a tree-shaped steel tower near the heavily-fortified border, the defence ministry said.

The Christmas lights on a military-controlled hill in Gimpo west of Seoul will be switched on for 12 days from today, it said.

Last month a different church group shelved its plans for a similar display after local residents voiced fears that Pyongyang might shell the illuminations.

Before the South’s “Sunshine Policy” of engagement with North Korea launched in 1998, the seasonal lighting displays were common.

Pyongyang repeatedly condemned them as “psychological warfare” aimed at spreading Christianity.

In 2004 the two Koreas agreed to halt official-level cross-border propaganda and the South stopped the Christmas border illuminations completely.

They were resumed in 2010 after North Korea shelled a frontline island, but were postponed last year in a conciliatory gesture following the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il.

Tensions have been running high on the Korean peninsula after the North’s rocket launch last week.

- © AFP, 2012

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