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Red Crosses in Seoul: What Are They Really?

by April DR / Mar 06, 2018 04:19 AM EST
Churches in Seoul light up their crosses at night Photo by: The Seoul Guide / YouTube Screenshot

If visiting Seoul for the first time, you will notice the red crosses that light up the sky at night. Others mistake it for "graves." The reality is, these red crosses are actually a sign where churches are located in the city. 

Traditionally all over the world, churches use bells to call worshippers. However, in the city, they changed that to neon signs. These red neon crosses signify that the churches are available 24/7 and people can come anytime. The color choice is meant to represent the blood of Christ whilst a pastor described it as a "coastal lighthouse for passing ships in the dark."

Locals have already grown accustomed to these red neon lights. However, some see them as an eyesore. There are some complaints that say that the red neon lights keep them awake at night. In light of such complaints, some churches extended a compromise to adopt a schedule for when they are lit. 

"Looking from above, the night scene of Seoul looks like that of a graveyard," one netizen said. 

A Bill Proposal

In 2011, critics express that the crosses are a form of light pollution. Restaurant, motel, and retail owners have also complained about these neon red lights that legislators then pass a law to limit what they called "excessive illumination from artificial light." 

Grand National Party's Park Young-ah also discussed the long-term health effect of the glare coming from these neon red lights, "Systematic control of light pollution and standards for the appropriate level of light do not exist," she wrote in her bill proposal. 

However, Kim Un-tae was against this and considered the proposal a "foolish" attack on religious freedom. 

Amidst the complaints, all the City officials can do is to make suggestions to the church, hence the scheduling. There are still others who find comfort in seeing these crosses light up the night sky of Seoul. 

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