August 10, 2015 10:23
North Korea on Friday announced it will set its clocks back half an hour behind South Korea and Japan, joining a small handful of countries, including India and Iran, that spurn the convention of GMT +/- full hours.
The North so far set its clocks on Coordinated Universal Time plus nine hours, calibrated on the position of Tokyo to Greenwich. But the 70th anniversary of liberation from Japanese rule has prompted this double snub for former imperial powers.
The shift to "Pyongyang Time" will become effective on Aug. 15. "The wicked Japanese imperialists committed such unpardonable crimes as depriving Korea of even its standard time while mercilessly trampling on 5,000 years of history and culture in the unheard-of goal of obliterating the Korean nation," the official [North] Korean Central News Agency said.
Experts say the gesture offers a clear marker to distinguish leader Kim Jong-un's rule from his father and grandfather's.
Kim Jong-il also had a go at making his own calendar, setting 1912, the year his father and nation founder Kim Il-sung was born, as Year 1 of Juche or self-reliance.
There has been some advocacy in both Koreas for a half-hour divergence from UTC to better match the actual course of the sun -- making UTC + 8 ½ a better fit -- but this has been largely dismissed as too fussy.
A Unification Ministry spokesman warned the North's new time zone would have a "negative impact" on reunification and other efforts to bring the two sides together.
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