Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Trees Increase Korean Tensions

The approach of Christmas is bringing tensions between rival neighbours North and South Korea. The source of the latest friction is the proposed erection of two 30-metre-tall Christmas-tree-shaped towers near the border of the two Koreas. The South Korean government has agreed to a request from Christian groups to put up the towers within sight of the North Korean city of Kaesong. The move has provoked strong reaction from North Korea. Its state-run website has said putting up the towers would amount to ‘psychological warfare’. South Korea has denied such claims. It says the huge steel trees are simply a sign of the freedom of expression and religion people in the South enjoy.

Relations on the Korean Peninsular are still low following the sinking of one of South Korea’s warships in March 2010 with the loss of 46 lives. It is the first time in seven years that the trees will be visible from the North. The last time it happened, Pyongyang accused Seoul of using the trees to try and spread Christianity to people in atheist North Korea. South Korean religious leaders disagree. Tak Sejin, chairman of the group organising the tree lighting, said: “This is a ceremony for peace on the Korean peninsula and national unity. It is being held with our desire for harmony among our fellow men and between North and South Korea.” Mr Sejin added: “We are doing this with the expectation that some day our people can become one.”

Vocabulary Review: Read the sentence and choose the best answer from the choices.
1. The dog's approach scattered the geese.

a. arrival
b. attack
c. departure

2. Tension is expected today in the meeting of government officials.

a. balance
b. pressure
c. fear

3. Two of the most gifted and talented people in all the land are also rivals.

a. friends
b. competitor
c. equal

4. Spending to much time together may cause friction in the relationship.

a. peace
b. agreement
c. conflict

5. Mr. Dolby has supervised the erection of the boilers and machinery.

a. construction
b. destruction
c. ruin

6. A nationwide campaign of protests provoked the authorities.

a. threaten
b. irritate
c. make happy

Comprehension check: Answer the questions based on the article.
1. What does the huge steel trees (Christmas Trees) symbolize?
2. What is the religion of North Koreans?
3. Why is tension increasing in North and South Korea?

Viewpoint Discussion: AGREE or DISAGREE. Support your answer.
1. Christmas is a time of peace.
2. It is fun to celebrate Christmas in Japan.

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