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Seoul Fells Controversial Christmas 'Tree' that Twinkled on Border

FILE - A giant steel Christmas tree lit up at the western mountain peak known as Aegibong in Gimpo, South Korea, Dec. 21, 2010.

A Christmas tree-shaped tower on South Korea's northern border that angered Pyongyang's atheist regime with its seasonal lights has gone permanently dark.

South Korea said Wednesday that it had dismantled the 43-year-old structure because it was no longer safe.

With its white cross perched atop the 20-meter steel pyramid, the tree was visible across the heavily-fortified border when it was turned on every year during the holiday season.

North Korea repeatedly called for the tree to be removed.

A defense ministry spokesman for the South told French news agency AFP that there are no plans to replace the tower.

He added that it was "unrelated to inter-Korean relations."

But the tree has been turned off and on during several holiday seasons, depending on the status of talks between Pyongyang and Seoul.

The South turned off the lights in 2004 under a deal to stop cross-border propaganda. It glowed again in 2010, after Seoul blamed North Korea for sinking a warship.

The two countries agreed earlier this month to high-level talks that had been suspended since February.