North Korea will be adjusting its clocks 30 minutes forward to fulfill the promise made by its leader Kim Jong-un to unify the time zones used in the two nations.
The North’s Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly announced that it will be adopting the time zone UTC+9 via the state-run Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) on Monday, Korea Times reports.
“The new time zone will be applied beginning May 5. To implement the decision, the Cabinet and authorities will come up with countermeasures,” the agency said in the statement.
South Korea’s presidential spokesperson Yoon Young-chan had earlier revealed that Kim Jong-un expressed willingness to unify the time systems between the two Koreas.
“I feel sad to see that there are two clocks hung on the wall of the Peace House, one for Seoul time and the other for Pyongyang time,” Kim was quoted as saying by Yoon.
“Since it is us who changed the time standard, we will return to the original one. You can make it public.”
According to the KCNA, the time zone adjustment is part of the steps both countries are taking to reconciliation and integration.
Praised the gesture, Yoon noted how the transition would come with its difficulties and costs that the North has committed to enduring.
“The decision shows Kim’s determination to remove obstacles in exchanges with the South and the U.S., as well as to expand its accord with international society,” said Yoon.
Unification ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun commented that the move would be greatly beneficial to the North.
“Despite the social costs, there will be some benefits as well. The ministry thinks the North considered various factors,” Baik said on Monday.
For instance, having the same time zone would allow the creation of a joint economic bloc and inter-Korean economic cooperation agreements, such as railroad construction and tourism initiatives.
Both Koreas have used the same time zone in the past but a landmine explosion incident in the demilitarized zone on August 4, 2015, increased the tension between them. The timezone change was implemented by the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly a day after the incident, citing the intent of eradicating vestiges of the Japanese imperialism.
It was the Japanese colonial rule which introduced the UTC+9 time system (based on the Japanese East Longitude of 135 degrees) to the Korean peninsula in 1912.
Since the Korean peninsula is actually located at 127 degrees East Longitude, it has been proposed in the South’s local legislature to correct its own time zone; however, experts have pointed out that a 30-minute time difference neighboring countries would extremely be difficult.
Feature image via YouTube / Arirang News