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North Korea Rejoins South Korean Time Zone As Peace Offensive Continues

REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter

North Korea has set its clocks forward thirty minutes, joining South Korea on the same time zone, North Korean state media reported a little after midnight Saturday.

“This is the first step in the process of reconciling the national after the historic reunion at the third North-South summit and bringing the North and South together,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported, revealing the standard times of North and South Korea are now the same. The decision to reset the clocks came after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met for the first time on April 27 at a landmark summit on South Korean soil.

North Korea turned its clocks back half an hour in 2015 as a rebuke of the time standards set in place by the “wicked Japanese imperialists.” The South Koreans did the same thing in the mid-1950s, but the country later switched back to encourage bilateral trade between Japan and South Korea.

The time difference has actually complicated interactions between North and South Korea. The North and South Koreans agreed to a phone call at the border earlier this year. When the South Koreans called, no one answered. It turned out they had accidentally called thirty minutes too early, as the time that North Korea agreed to was based on Pyongyang time.

At the recent inter-Korean summit, North and South Korea agreed to pursue a permanent peace, an end to war, and a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula through complete denuclearization. Many observers are optimistic, but there are also numerous skeptics that are wary of Pyongyang’s promises.

President Donald Trump is expected to meet Kim in the coming weeks.

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