Kim Jong Un is following the lead of former Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez in changing time, marking the anniversary of liberation from Japan’s colonial rule by moving the clock back in North Korea by half an hour.
The change will take effect Aug. 15, on the 70th anniversary of Japan’s World War II surrender that saw the nation relinquish control over the Korean peninsula, North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency said Friday, citing a parliamentary decree.
The peninsula was divided into North Korea and South Korea in 1948, and the two nations have since had the same time zone as Japan. KCNA said Japan deprived Korea of its standard time after it annexed Korea in 1910 and that North Korea will take “practical steps” to implement the change.
“This will cause difficulty in restoring the homogeneity of the north and the south in the long term,” South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon Hee told reporters in Seoul. He said a “slight” inconvenience is also expected in South Koreans’ access to a jointly run industrial park in North Korea.
During Chavez’s presidency, Venezuela changed its time zone by half an hour in 2007, becoming one of a handful of countries that have set their time zones in 30-minute increments. At the time, Chavez said time zones were created by “imperialists.” Under North Korea’s new time zone change, it’ll be 9:30 a.m. in Pyongyang when it is 10 a.m. in Seoul and Tokyo.
In 2013 South Korean lawmaker Cho Myung Chul, a North Korean defector, proposed a bill to turn his country’s clocks back by 30 minutes. He called it “a shame” that the country was using the same time zone as Japan at a time they were locked in a territorial spat over a set of islets controlled by South Korea. The proposal joined by 36 other legislators hasn’t moved past the review stage.
(Previous versions of this story were corrected because they showed the time in Pyongyang would be later than in Japan, and to accurately describe Chavez as Venezuela’s leader.)