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Pyongyang Knows What Time it Is

In a symbolic move to demonstrate “self-reliance” and give the finger to Japan, North Korea has boldly announced the creation of their very own time zone, to be set 30 minutes earlier than both Japan and South Korea.

Pyongyang time (UTC+08:30) will be implemented on August 15, coinciding with the day of Japan’s surrender 70 years ago, marking the end of WWII and Japanese control over the Korean peninsula.

“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,” said the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

Academics comment that this proprietary time zone represents North Korea’s long-standing political ideology of self-reliance—known as “Juche.” This philosophy was created by Kim Il-sung, the founder of the Democratic Republic of Korea (DPRK) who went on to rule the nation as the lifelong “supreme leader” until being succeeded by his son, Kim Jong-Il, in 1994. The current leader of the hermit kingdom, Kim Jong-un, is attempting to keep the legacy alive with this latest move.

“Whatever difficulties and inconveniences the new time zone may cause are nothing to his government, compared with its propaganda value at home,” said Chang Yong-seok, a North Korea expert from Seoul National University.

Most agree that the potential difficulties will be minor, given the extremely limited communication and trade that North Korea has internationally, or even next door with South Korea. But as far as hopes of reunification are concerned, a move like this certainly isn’t helping efforts… that is, unless South Korea wants to follow in the DPRK’s footsteps and adopt the new time zone as well.

Perhaps the north somehow sees this as a possibility? After all, both Koreas actually used this “in-between” time zone for brief periods before—in 1908 and later (South Korea only) during the 1950s.

South Korea also holds resentment towards Japan, beginning with Japan’s forced annexation of the peninsula, which resulted in the complete loss of diplomatic sovereignty of what was then known as the Korean Empire. Then there was the extended period of Japanese occupation until the end of WWII, where many Koreans were put into forced labor—most notoriously were the “comfort women” who were taken to work in brothels for the Japanese military.

Getting back to the present, however, and disputes aside, the economies of South Korea and Japan are too intertwined to justify the tweaking of a time zone. At the very least, it would cause a period of untold busywork/adjustments needed when considering the sheer volume of trade and communication between the two countries.

H/T: New York Times