South Koreans to light new giant Christmas tree near border despite North Korean anger

South Korea has approved a Christian group's plan to set up and illuminate a large Christmas tree near the border with North Korea in spite of the almost certain fury it will provoke from Pyongyang.

South Korea dismantled a 43-year-old frontline Christmas three-shaped tower in October because of safety worries. The structure stoked tensions because officially atheist Pyongyang saw it as propaganda warfare.

Seoul's Defense Ministry said Tuesday that it approved the setting up and lighting of a new Christmas tree in the same area for two weeks starting from Dec. 23 to pray for peace.

Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok says the approval is aimed at guaranteeing religious freedom.

The Seoul-based Christian Council of Korea says it will take down the 9-meter (30-feet) tree after the two weeks are finished.