During a summit with President Moon Jae-in on Friday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said that his country will move its clock forward 30 minutes, back to the same time as in the South.
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.
|This photo, taken on April 29, 2018, shows two clocks showing a 30-minute gap between Seoul (left) and Pyongyang standard times hanging on a wall of the Peace House, the venue for an inter-Korean summit held on April 27. (Yonhap)|
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 the Korean Central News Agency.
The North's leader said its move to unify the time zone is "the first practical step for national reconciliation and unity," the report said.
"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," Kim was quoted as saying by KCNA.
Moon's chief press secretary Yoon Young-chan told reporters about Kim's surprise proposal Sunday.
"Since it was we who changed the time standard, we will return to the original one. You can make it public," Kim was quoted as saying by Yoon.
|(Cheong Wa Dae)|
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.
"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.
Moon and Kim held a historic summit last week at the border village of Panmunjom and agreed to seek "complete" denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and push for declaring an end to the 1950-53 Korean War this year.
Experts said that Kim's move to let the parliament announce the decree is a way of showing that it is a "normal state" whose political system functions like that of any other country. (Yonhap)