Nothing Says the Holidays Like Militarily Guarding Your Christmas Tree

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South Korea's Christmas Tree: a possible military target.

Reuters

South Korea erected a Christmas Tree next to the North Korean border. North Korea doesn’t like it. South Korea is guarding it with marines.

It’s been seven years since South Korea lit the tree, a move that many viewed as a softening stance toward the Communist North. But the recent incidents involving the sinking of the Cheonan, a South Korean warship (which killed 46 sailors this summer) and the shelling of a South Korean island in November, the democratic South decided it’d be a good idea to light up a giant tree with a huge cross on top of it.

Apparently, the tree can be seen from Kaesong, North Korea, which is miles from the border and the demilitarized zone. The tree (which is actually not a tree at all and more of a bunch of lights in the shape of one) had recently stayed dim as part of an agreement to minimize propaganda efforts from both sides. But now with the lights on, South Korea fears that the North could fire upon it, so it has surrounded the tree with marines.

(Check out these photos of the South Korean tree.)

Perhaps only on the border of the two Koreas could a Christmas tree became a possible military target, making reconciliation between the two countries seem as far apart as it’s been in years.

(Read TIME’s A Brief History of Korean Border Clashes.)

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