First-time visitors to Seoul are often surprised by one prominent feature of the nighttime scenery—the abundance of red crosses that are lit up across the city—and ask, “Why are there so many graves?”
Actually, the signs don’t signify anything ghoulish but, instead, show where Seoul’s churches are located.
Originally churches had bells to call worshipers but over time, they changed to the neon signs. These glowing crosses let people know that the churches are open anytime and to anyone, while their color choice is supposed to represent the blood of Christ. One pastor even described them as “a coastal lighthouse for passing ships in the dark.”
While many have become accustomed to the perpetually-lit neon crosses, some complain that the garish light keeps them awake at night and some churches have responded by adopting schedules for when they are lit.
There are many critics of the neon signs, however, who view the crosses both as an eyesore and a form of light pollution. Some who live close to the signs have complained that they can’t sleep because the crosses give off too much light. Still other critics say that they make the city look like a graveyard—as many foreigners are apt to observe.
And while a few netizens agree that the signs give a spooky atmosphere to the city, most of them find it hilarious that foreigners mistake them as grave markers.