North Korea to create its own time zone

Baku, August 8, AZERTAC

North Korea is its own world in many ways. Now, it is getting its own time zone to match. KCNA news agency has announced that North Korea will set its clocks back by 30 minutes to "Pyongyang time" on August 15--the 70th anniversary of liberation from Japan.

That will reset the time to GMT+08:30, as it was before Japanese colonization.

The new time zone will take effect from next Saturday – 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 (KCNA) said yesterday. 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 GMT. 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 leader Kim Jong-un with anti-Japan, nationalistic sentiments, said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul. Mr 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 frontline soldiers, work in slave-labour conditions or serve as prostitutes in brothels operated by the Japanese military during the war. North Korea traces its birth as an independent nation to its founder, Kim Il-sung, who like other Korean peasants engaged in guerrilla warfare against the Japanese.

There is no international body that approves a country’s change of time zone as countries decide for themselves.

In 2011, Samoa changed its time zone to the other side of the international dateline, losing one day, so as to make communication easier with neighbours Australia and New Zealand.

North Korea is not the only country that has created its own time zone.

In 2007, Venezuela decided to turn its clocks back by half an hour as president Hugo Chavez wanted to have a “more fair distribution of the sunrise” to residents. Venezuela is now the only country with a time zone 4.5 hours behind GMT.

The time zone that North Korea plans to use is the one a single Korea adopted in 1908.

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