Pyongyang to unify time zone with Seoul from May 5

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Seoul, April 30 (IANS) North Korea will unify its time zone with South Korea’s starting from May 5 in a bid to promote the two countries’ reconciliation, Pyongyang’s state media said Monday.

During a historic summit with President Moon Jae-in on April 27, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said that his country will move its clock 30 minutes forward, back to the same time as in the South, reports Yonhap News Agency.

North Korea decided to push back its standard time by 30 minutes in August 2015, claiming the move was aimed at removing the vestige of Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

The two Koreas previously used an identical standard time, set in the period.

The Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, North Korea’s parliament, has decided to adopt a decree on synchronizing the country with Seoul’s time zone starting this Saturday, according to Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

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Kim said the move to unify the time zone is “the first practical step for national reconciliation and unity”, according to KCNA.

“Noting that it was a painful wrench to see two clocks indicating Pyongyang and Seoul times hanging on a wall of the summit venue, he proposed unifying the times of the north and the south before doing anything else,” KCNA quoted Kim as saying.

Moon’s chief press secretary Yoon Young-chan told reporters about Kim’s surprise proposal on Sunday.

Re-setting the standard time was a verbal promise by Kim, not an issue that was agreed upon at last week’s summit.

But the North’s swift announcement apparently reflects its resolve to improve ties with Seoul and implement a set of inter-Korean summit agreements, reports Yonhap News Agency.

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“The move seems to indicate Chairman Kim’s active willingness for improving inter-Korean relations and seeking harmony with the international community. It also shows the country’s resolve to implement inter-Korean agreements at a fast pace,” Baik Tae-hyun, spokesman at Seoul’s Unification Minister, told a press briefing on Monday.

Moon and Kim held the summit at the border village of Panmunjom and agreed to seek “complete” denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and push for declaring an end to the 1950-53 Korean War this year.

On Sunday, North Korea offered to close down its nuclear test site in Punggye-ri also in May.

–IANS

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