North Korea to set up its own time zone
South Korean clocks to remain unchanged
North Korea has no time for Japan. Not anymore, at least.
The country will establish its own time zone next week by pulling back by 30 minutes its current standard time, a legacy of the Japanese colonial rule.
The new time zone will take effect Aug. 15 — the 70th anniversary of Korea's liberation from Japanese rule at the end of the Second World War, North Korea's official Central News Agency said Friday. The establishment of "Pyongyang time" will root out that legacy, it said.
Local time in North and South Korea and Japan is the same — nine hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. It was set during Japan's rule over what was single Korea from 1910 to 1945.
"The wicked Japanese imperialists committed such unpardonable crimes as depriving Korea of even its standard time while mercilessly trampling down its land with 5,000-year-long history and culture and pursuing the unheard-of policy of obliterating the Korean nation," the KCNA dispatch said.
The North's move appears to be aimed at bolstering the leadership of young leader Kim Jong Un with anti-Japan, nationalistic sentiments, said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul. Kim took power upon the death of his dictator father, Kim Jong Il, in late 2011.
Many Koreans, especially the elderly, on both sides of the border still harbour deep resentment against Japan over its colonial occupation. Hundreds of thousands of Koreans were forced to fight as front-line soldiers, work in slave-labour conditions or serve as prostitutes in brothels operated by the Japanese military during the war.
South Korea says it uses the same time zone as Japan because it's more practical and conforms to international practice.
Seoul's Unification Ministry said Friday that the North's action could bring minor disruption at a jointly-run industrial park at the North Korean border city of Kaesong and other inter-Korean affairs. Spokesman Jeong Joon-Hee said the North's new time zone could also hamper efforts to narrow widening differences between the Koreas.
Most time zones in the world differ in increments of an hour and only a small number of countries, such as India, Iran and Burma use zones where the entire country is offset by a half-hour. Nepal is offset by 45 minutes. In Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador is offset by 30 minutes from Atlantic Time.
The time zone that North Korea plans to use is what a single Korea adopted in 1908, though the peninsula came under the same Japanese zone in 1912, two years after Tokyo's colonial occupation began. After the liberation, North Korea has maintained the current time zone, while South Korea had briefly used the old zone from 1954 to 1961.