North Korea Threatens South Korea — Over Christmas Lights

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Jo Yong-Hak / Reuters

South Korean Christians sing a hymn in front of a Christmas tree on top of the Aegibong Peak Observatory just south of the demilitarised zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas in Gimpo, west of Seoul December 21, 2010.

Nothing says “international feud” quite like Christmas lights. When relations between North Korea and South Korea fall on the friendly side, South Korea doesn’t light up towers on its border with Christmas lights. When things aren’t so lovely, they let the lights shine. This year marks a newfound effort to light towers with Christmas lights and North Korea is none too fond of it, warning of “unexpected consequences.”

The “psychological warfare” alleged by North Korea comes as South Korean officials have allowed Christian groups even broader freedom to decorate towers that line the border between the two nations.

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South Korea held off on the traditional lighting in 2003 at the request of North Korea. But when the two sides fell back into their bickering, the towers were lit up once more last year.

As is tradition, the towers will shine for 15 days, starting this year on Dec. 23. Last year, thousands of lights on a nearly 100-foot tall tree-shaped tower about two miles from the border on the top of Aegibong Hill was reportedly seen from North Korea’s Kaesong city. The North Korean government feels a repeat performance amounts to an invasion of the Christian faith into their atheist borders.

Of course, South Korea hasn’t taken too lightly the invasion of space North Korea has shown by allegedly sinking one of its warships and killing 46 in March 2010 (North Korea denies involvement) and firing upon an island, killing four, in November 2010. South Korea must figure a few lights won’t do that much damage.

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