Monday, December 15, 2014

Confrontation Over a Christmas Tree

Aegibong is a mountain that faces North Korea. In the Peace Column of the Peace Weekly we are told the  historical significance of the name. Back in the time of the Sino-Korean War the governor of Pyeongyang province, to escape the invasion of the Qing forces took his mistress and fled. He Hoped to cross the Han River but was captured by the Chinese forces, and taken to the North, only his mistress was able to cross the Han River. She continued to look at the Northern sky waiting for her lover. When she died she wanted to be  buried on a peak which overlooked the North.

In 1966 Park Cheong Hee, the president, visited the mountain, and understood the  feelings of the mistress towards her lover were much like the anguish of the families separated by the division of the two Koreas, the peak was named Aegibong.
Using the  telescopes on the observation platform of  Aegibong  one is able to see many of the villages of the North and the displaced persons now living in the South can look for their villages they had to leave.

Most of the citizens know Aegibong as the place they light the Christmas Tree. The lighting ceremony makes the  news but as in the past it is surrounded with much commentary. Right after the Korean War in 1954 they began decorating a pine tree with Christmas decorations. In 1971 they erected a 30 meter tower which was decorated with Christmas lights. The Protestants prepare the tree for Christmas and have a lighting ceremony. The ceremony is to celebrate  the birth of Jesus and to pray for the peaceful unification of the country. However, North Korea considers the setting up of the tree, that can be seen within North Korean territory, as a subversive act and an incitement to war and oppose it.

Back in 2004 when the two Koreas were talking to each other at the request of North Korea the South stopped the Christmas lighting ceremonies but they resumed in 2010. The tower that was used in the past for the decorations was considered old and dangerous and was torn down; in its place a 9 meter temporary tower was erected by the Protestant Christian Confederation with the permission of the Ministry of National Defense.

The North Korean Religious Council considers the tree a vile psychological tactic that incites to war and is putting pressure to prevent the ceremonies to proceed.  The villagers also who surround the area are very much concerned because of the threat of the North to not stand idly by if they have the lighting ceremony.The villagers say they will use physical force to prevent the lighting of the Christmas tree. They are afraid of the bombing of the area and the danger to the villagers.

The columnist ends up with a question for the rest of us Christians. Christmas is a time of peace and we have a situation that forebodes confrontation. How would Jesus look upon the situation?

No comments:

Post a Comment