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North Korea's Receding Time Zone

Some might say that a trip to North Korea is like stepping back in time. Beginning next week, it will also include setting your watch back by 30 minutes.

As of Aug. 15, according to the country's official news agency KCNA, North Korea will be in a new time zone to mark the 70th anniversary of its liberation from the Japanese at the end of World War II.

Beginning in 1910, when Japan colonized Korea, Tokyo moved the peninsula's time zone ahead half an hour to match its own and "deprived Korea of even its standard time," KCNA writes.

The change will return North Korean clocks to where they were before colonization, which was 8.5 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

South Korea has announced no plans to follow suit.

The BBC quotes South Korea's Unification Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-hee as saying that in the short-term, the change could cause some inconvenience at the Kaesong industrial plant, which is jointly run by the two bitter rivals as an experiment in economic cooperation.

"And in the longer term, there may be some fallout for efforts to unify standards and reduce differences between the two sides," he said.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.