Sun, May 06, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Right on time: North Korea adjusts time zone to match South


A man adjusts his wristwatch in front of a clock at Pyongyang Station in Pyongyang, North Korea, early yesterday.

Photo: AP

North Korea yesterday readjusted its time zone to match South Korea’s and described the change as an early step toward making the long-time rivals “become one” following a landmark summit.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un promised to sync his country’s time zone with the South’s during his April 27 talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

That promise was fulfilled yesterday by a decree of the nation’s Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, the North’s Korean Central News Agency reported yesterday.

The Koreas used the same time zone for decades before the North in 2015 created its own “Pyongyang Time” by setting its clocks 30 minutes behind South Korea and Japan.

It said at the time that it did so to root out the legacy of the Japanese Empire’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula, when clocks in Korea were changed to be the same as in Japan.

“Pyongyang Time” was created as tensions between the authoritarian country and the US grew over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program and international sanctions aimed at dismantling it.

However, relations between the Koreas have in recent months warmed dramatically, with Kim and Moon pledging at their summit to rid the peninsula of nuclear weapons.

The meeting produced many steps toward reconciliation, including an agreement to resume reunions of families separated by the 1950-1953 Korean War, although it lacked a breakthrough in the nuclear standoff.

Those details await Kim and US President Donald Trump, who are expected to meet in the coming weeks.

Kim proposed returning North Korea to the South’s time zone because it was “a painful wrench to see two clocks indicating Pyongyang and Seoul times hanging on a wall of the summit venue,” the North’s news agency reported.

Resynchronizing North and South Korean time was “the first practical step” since the summit “to speed up the process for the North and the South to become one, and turn their different and separated things into the same and single ones,” it said.

Kim has said that he would be willing to give up his nuclear weapons if the US commits to a formal end to the war and pledges not to attack the North, South Korea said.

However, Kim’s exact demands for relinquishing weapons that his nation spent decades building remains unclear.

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