By Katharine Lackey, USA TODAY
The reclusive nation of North Korea just wants some time to itself. So it’s setting back the clock by 30 minutes to create a new “Pyongyang time.”
The time zone will go into effect Aug. 15 as the nation breaks away from a standard put in place by Japan more than a century ago.
“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 country’s official Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) said Friday.
Japan ruled over the then-unified Korea from 1910 to 1945 and set the local time for 9 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) for the entire peninsula. The two Koreaswere divided into North and South after the end of World War II.
The date for the new time zone was chosen to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the nation’s liberation from Japan at the end of World War II. “It was the day of historical significance as it put an end to the history of national sufferings and brought about a radical turn in carving out the destiny of the country and its people,” KCNA said.
Seoul’s Unification Ministry said the time difference could cause minor disruptions, notably at the Kaesong industrial park on the border where South Korean managers oversee North Korean workers. It could also disrupt efforts to narrow the differences between the two nations, spokesman Jeong Joon-Hee told multiple news agencies.
Most time zones in the world differ by increments of an hour from GMT. Some nations, including India, Iran and Myanmar have zones offset by a half hour. Nepal’s time zone differs by 45 minutes.
North Korea isn’t the first nation to adjust its time. In 2007, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez turned back the clock in his nation by a half hour to provide residents with a “more fair distribution of the sunrise.”