For a quarter of a century, Kim Un-tae has found comfort in the red neon cross that sits atop the steeple of the Protestant church he founded here.

For the 70-year-old holy man, the soft glow of the religious icon has always signified that his faith was open for anyone willing to enter the doors of his church. “It’s like a coastal lighthouse for passing ships in the dark,” Kim said.

Yet critics say church crosses like Kim’s are just another form of light pollution.

Tens of thousands of churches dot South Korea, most with their own red neon crosses. In Seoul, where several churches crowd onto a single block, illuminating their crosses until midnight or later, the beacons combine to color the urban night like a carnival come to town.

“Looking from above, the night scene of Seoul looks like that of a graveyard,” one Internet user complained in a posting.

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