South Korea dismantles giant Christmas tree tower on border with North

South Korean Defense Ministry officials denied media speculation that the tower was dismantled as a conciliatory gesture aimed at improving ties with North Korea.

Lee Jin-man/AP
A giant steel Christmas tree lit up at the western mountain peak known as Aegibong in Gimpo, South Korea, in 2010. South Korean military officials said they pulled down the tree near the country’s heavily-armed border with North Korea at a time when the countries are pursuing better ties after months of animosity.

South Korea has pulled down a 43-year-old front-line Christmas tower that North Korea viewed as propaganda warfare, with officials saying Wednesday the structure was unsafe.

The massive steel tower was demolished last week and South Korea plans to build a park in its place, according to South Korea'sDefense Ministry and local city officials.

South Korea stopped the lightening of the tower in 2004 as relations with North Korea warmed during an era of reconciliation. ButSouth Korea allowed Christian groups to light the tower in 2010 and 2012 as tensions spiked following two attacks that killed 50South Koreans and a banned long-range rocket test by North Korea.

The tower, which was located about 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) from the border, sat on a peak high enough for North Koreans living in border towns to see it.

The news of the dismantling came three days after troops from the rival Koreas exchanged gunfire along the border, the second shootout in less than 10 days. There were no reports of casualties from either incident.

Earlier this month, there were signs of easing tensions after a high-profile North Korean delegation visited South Korea and agreed to revive senior-level talks.

South Korean Defense Ministry officials denied media speculation that the tower was dismantled as a conciliatory gesture aimed at improving ties with North Korea.

The Korean Peninsula remains in a technical state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to