North Korea accuses the South of displaying Christmas lights to spread Christianity to its people and soldiers [Reuters]

South Korea will allow Christians to light three Christmas tree-shaped towers near its tense border with North Korea despite strong opposition from Pyongyang, an official said.

On Sunday, the North's state-run Uriminzokkiri website called the plan "a mean attempt for psychological warfare" and threatened that lighting the trees would trigger an "unexpected consequence".

The South allowed a Christian group to light a massive steel Christmas tree near the border last year for the first time in seven years amid raised tensions.

That tree will be lit again this month, while the South has also decided to allow Christian groups to light two other front-line Christmas trees, a Defense Ministry official said.

The trees, which will stay lit for 15 days starting on December 23, will be placed on the western, central and eastern portions of the border.

Christmas as propaganda

In 2004, the two Koreas reached a deal to halt official-level cross-border propaganda and the South stopped its annual Christmas illumination ceremony.

But Seoul resumed the ceremony last December after cross-border relations turned icy.

The South accused the North of torpedoing one of its warships in March 2010, killing 46 South Koreans. Pyongyang angrily denied involvement, but went on to shell a border island in November 2010 that killed four and sparked fears of war.

The North has previously accused the South of displaying Christmas lights to spread Christianity among its people and soldiers.

Last year's tree, which was illuminated by thousands of small light bulbs, could be seen from as far as the North's major city of Kaesong, media reports said.

Source: Agencies