North Korea will create its own time zone, moving its clocks back by 30 minutes to mark the 70th anniversary of Korea's liberation from Japanese rule next week, the official KCNA news agency said on Friday.
North Korea is in the same time zone as rivals South Korea and Japan, nine hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.
The change to what it calls “Pyongyang time” will become effective on Aug. 15 and return North Korea to the time zone used across the Korean peninsula before Japanese rule.
“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 said.
Japan ruled the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945. A decree by colonial Japan in 1912 moved the time line to where Korea Standard Time is currently set, 135 degrees east longitude.
The North's move appears to be aimed at bolstering the leadership of young leader Kim Jong Un with anti-Japan, nationalistic sentiments, said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul. Kim took power upon the death of his dictator father, Kim Jong Il, in late 2011.
Many Koreans, especially the elderly, on both sides of the border still harbor deep resentment against Japan over its colonial occupation. Hundreds of thousands of Koreans were forced to fight as front-line soldiers, work in slave-labor conditions or serve in brothels operated by the Japanese military during the war.
Still, South Korea says it uses the same time zone as Japan because it's more practical and conforms to international practice.