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South Koreans light giant Christmas tree near border

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Dec. 22, 2012: A 100-foot-tall steel Christmas tree with about 30,000 light bulbs, is lit by Christian groups at the western mountain peak, known as Aegibong, in Gimpo, South Korea. (AP)

South Koreans have lit a Christmas tree-shaped tower near the tense border with North Korea for the first time in two years following North Korea's rocket launch.

Seoul's Defense Ministry said Sunday that it allowed Christian groups to light the massive steel tower Saturday. It's to stay lit until Jan. 2.

Pyongyang views the tower as propaganda warfare, though it has not yet responded to this year's lighting.

The lighting came 10 days after North Korea placed a satellite into orbit aboard a long-range rocket. South Korea and the U.S. say the launch was a test of banned missile technology.

The tree wasn't lit last year after officials asked Christians to refrain from doing so to avoid tension following the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il last December.

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