North Korean citizens celebrated this week as midnight bells signified the establishment of a new time zone for the isolated nation, set 30 minutes out of sync with neighboring countries.
The decision to change North Korea’s time zone was announced last week, as Yahoo News reports, and implemented on midnight of August 15, the anniversary of the Korean Peninsula’s liberation during the Second World War. Though both Korean nations and Japan previously shared a time zone (nine hours ahead of GMT), North Korea will now count time 30 minutes removed from the south, as clocks were set back by a half hour.
North Korea celebrates its new time zone, “Pyongyang Time” http://t.co/NWjTl1bk2v pic.twitter.com/9LctPXS1BU
— Yahoo News (@YahooNews) August 14, 2015
Though surprising when it was announced last week, the move to establish a unique time zone for North Korea strikes a chord with many on both sides of the demilitarized zone, who harbor resentment toward the Japanese government. The island nation occupied the Korean peninsula during World War II, a period well remembered by many Korean citizens for its brutality and harsh rule, as the Inquisitr previously noted.
— BBC Radio 4 (@BBCRadio4) August 8, 2015
The new time zone was previously adopted on the Korean peninsula (which was then unified) in 1908, though it was scrapped in 1912, two years after the landmass was colonized, in favor of the Japanese time zone. South Korea has also previously employed the new time zone, during the years 1954 to 1961, though it eventually reverted to the Japanese standard as well, as the Economist notes. South Korean president Park Geun-hye criticized the North for not coordinating the move with their neighbors, who were caught off-guard by it.
— Nine News Australia (@9NewsAUS) August 8, 2015
The new time zone is referred to as Pyongyang time, and while unusual, it is not unprecedented. Nepal has a 45-minute time deviation from its neighboring countries, while other nations, including India, Iran, and Myanmar, have also implemented 30-minute changes.
Jong Sok, chief astronomer at the Pyongyang Observatory, noted that Pyongyang time more accurately reflects the astronomical conditions along the peninsula.
“With the time standard that we have used up until now, the time when the sun is at its highest position is not correctly noon,” he observed.
In addition to the new time zone, North Korea does not count years in the same manner as western nations. North Korean calendars regard this year as Juche 104, using the birth of the country’s first president, Kim Il Sung, as a reference point.
As Pyongyang time is officially established, North Korea has also been quick to criticize the south for remaining aligned with the Japanese time zone.
[Photo by Feng Li/ Getty Images]