KAESONG, NORTH KOREA - DECEMBER 19: North Korean employees work at the assembly line of the factory of South Korean company at the Kaesong industrial complex on December 19, 2013 in Kaesong, North Korea. North Korea agreed on this rare cross-border trip of about 30 foreign officials and financial experts proposed by South Korea as the South Korean government watches on Pyongyang following the execution of leader Kim Jong-Un's uncle, Jang Song-Thaek. The Kaesong Industrial Complex was re-opened in September after a five-month closure caused by military tensions. (Photo by Park Jin-Hee-Pool/Getty Images)
Why did North Korea create its own time zone?
02:43 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

North Korean clocks will be set back by half an hour to GMT+8:30, the time zone it used before it was colonized by Japan

It also uses its own calendar based on the birth of its founding leader Kim Il Sung

Proposals in South Korea have also debated to moving back to its pre-colonial time zone

CNN  — 

North Korea is its own world in many ways. Now, it is getting its own time zone to match.

State news agency, KCNA, has announced that North Korea will set its clocks back by 30 minutes to “Pyongyang time” on August 15–the 70th anniversary of liberation from Japan.

That will reset the time to GMT+08:30, as it was before Japanese colonization.

“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,” KCNA reported on Friday.

New time zone could ‘cause some problems’

North Koreans already have their own calendar. Instead of counting from the birth of Christ, they count from the birth of founding leader, Kim Il Sung. Kim was born in 1912 – known in North Korea as Juche 1, making this year Juche 104.

The new time will put Pyongyang half an hour behind Tokyo and Seoul.

South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman, Jeong Joon-hee told a briefing on Friday that could cause some problems.

“Some difficulties are likely to come in inter-Korean exchanges, including flows to and from the Kaesong Industrial Complex,” he said.

Jeong added it could have negative effects on inter-Korean integration in the long-term.

South Korea too?

South Korea has made similar moves in the past. Its time zone was set at GMT+08:30 – the new Pyongyang time – between 1954 and 1961.

There have been proposals to move it back again over the past few years – most recently in 2013.

Defector-turned-ruling-party politician, Cho Myung-chol, introduced a bill in parliament to make the change.He told CNN resetting the time zone is part of regaining South Korea’s sovereignty and getting rid of the remaining vestiges of Japanese imperialism.

South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman, Jeong Joon-hee says Seoul time is based on practical considerations and not on colonial history.

Cho admits experts advised him that the current system is more practical, and warned the half hour change could cause chaos and confusion.

But he likens the warnings to the Y2K doomsday scenarios that did not eventuate, and believes any confusion would be temporary.

Cho says his original proposal was for both North and South Korea to set their clocks back by 30 minutes, and intends to revive his push for a change in Seoul, following Pyongyang’s announcement.

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Hyoungjoo Choi and CNN intern Bobin Seo contributed reporting