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South Korea demolishes Christmas tree, source of conflict with North

October 22, 2014, 10:54 UTC+3 SEOUL
It was a cone-form metal tower that South Koreans used to cover with colorful lights as part of propaganda efforts against North Korea
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© AP Photo/Lee Jin-man

SEOUL, October 22. /TASS/ South Korea has demolished a Christmas tree at the border with North Korea, removing a source of inter-Korean conflict, a South Korean military official said on Wednesday.

It was a cone-form metal tower that South Koreans used to cover with colorful lights as part of propaganda efforts against North Korea. The tower could be seen as far away as the North Korean border town of Kaesong.

The Christmas tree on Aegibong Hill near the western front-line border area has been a recurring source of diplomatic and military tension with the North, which once threatened to shell the tower, Yonhap news agency said.

But the removal last week was carried out purely in consideration of the rising risk of collapse, the official said.

"The maintenance team of the defence ministry conducted a safety check on major military facilities last November and the Aegibong light tower was given a D grade," the official said, refuting any speculation that the demolition had anything to do with inter-Korean relations.

The official said that the tower was at risk of collapse in case of strong winds or other physical pressure.

Since being built in 1971, the tower was lit annually during the Christmas season until Seoul and Pyongyang agreed in a military dialogue to stop propaganda activities at the border areas in 2004. Seoul, however, resumed the ceremony in 2010 after the North's sinking of the South Korean Navy corvette Cheonan in March of the same year, Yonhap said.

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