Pyongyang’s change in time zone impractical
In an abrupt move not unusual for the isolated North Korean regime, its official news agency said Friday that the communist state would push back its standard time by 30 minutes starting Aug. 15.
“The wicked Japanese imperialists committed such unpardonable crimes as depriving Korea of even its standard time,” the Korean Central News Agency said in announcing the measure to take effect on the 70th anniversary of the end of Japan’s colonial rule over the peninsula.
Currently, South and North Korea use the standard time set under the colonial period to place the peninsula in the same time zone as Japan.
North Korea’s latest move seems to reflect its leader Kim Jong Un’s intention to demonstrate his grip on power and dominate the agenda of removing colonial legacies in a landmark year that also marks the 70th anniversary of Korea’s division into the South and the North. In 1954, the South adopted a standard time similar to that announced by the North but returned to the current one in 1961 because of practical benefits such as daylight savings and conveniences in doing business with foreign countries.
Pyongyang’s move to push back its standard time, which it has continuously used over the past seven decades, will further deepen its eccentric and recalcitrant image in the international community. The forecast by experts that the decision will bring no significant costs or inconveniences to the North shows how insulated the impoverished regime is from the outside world.
The time difference may still cause some difficulties in interKorean exchanges, particularly flows of personnel and goods to and from a joint industrial park in Gaeseong north of the Demilitarized Zone. Officials from Seoul and Pyongyang may haggle over which side’s standard time to use in arranging meetings and other events between the Koreas.
The North should have had prior consultations with the South on changing its standard time. If so, the two sides could have discussed the possibility of jointly revising their standard time in the long term.
It is deplorable that the two Koreas are being divided in time as well as in space as they are urged to improve longstrained ties on the occasion of the landmark anniversary.
President Park Geun- hye’s government in Seoul needs to be more proactive in making a breakthrough in stalled interKorean talks. It is hoped that her upcoming Liberation Day speech will include bolder gestures toward Pyongyang. This is an editorial published by The Korea Herald on Aug. 10.