North to shift time zone to align with South's

People watching a television broadcast of a meeting of the ruling Workers' Party's central committee in Pyongyang on April 21. The two Koreas have had different time zones since 2015 when the North changed its standard time to 30 minutes behind the S
People watching a television broadcast of a meeting of the ruling Workers' Party's central committee in Pyongyang on April 21. The two Koreas have had different time zones since 2015 when the North changed its standard time to 30 minutes behind the South.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

SEOUL • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he would move the country's clocks 30 minutes forward to unify with the South's time zone as a conciliatory gesture after last Friday's inter-Korea summit, Seoul said yesterday.

The two countries on the divided peninsula have had different time zones since 2015 when the North suddenly changed its standard time to 30 minutes behind the South.

Pyongyang cited a nationalistic rationale, saying it would return the North to the time zone used before Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of the peninsula to mark the 70th anniversary of its liberation from Tokyo.

But during the historic summit with South Korean President Moon Jae In last Friday, Mr Kim promised to change the time zone back, said Mr Moon's spokesman.

Mr Moon and Mr Kim held the summit at the border truce village of Panmunjom, during which Mr Kim set foot in the south side of the border for the first time.

The two leaders pledged to pursue denuclearisation and a permanent peace.

Mr Kim said he found it heartbreaking to see the two wall clocks hanging at the summit room showing different times for the two neighbours, Mr Moon's spokesman Yoon Young Chan said.

"Since we were the ones who made the change from the standard time, we will go back to the original time. You can announce it publicly," Mr Yoon quoted Mr Kim as saying.

Mr Yoon hailed the move as a "symbolic move" for better ties between Seoul and Pyongyang.

The creation of "Pyongyang time" had drawn criticism from Mr Moon's conservative predecessor Park Geun Hye for further deepening the disparity between the two Koreas, whose division was sealed by the 1950-53 Korean War.

The war on the Korean peninsula has technically not ended.

At last week's summit, Mr Moon and Mr Kim also vowed to seek a formal end to the war.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 30, 2018, with the headline 'North to shift time zone to align with South's'. Print Edition | Subscribe