North Korea Setting Clocks Back A Half-Hour For Some Reason
North Korea is going back in time, literally:
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea, a hermetic country stuck in the Cold War and obsessed with its long-dead founder, now wants to turn back time.
By a half-hour.
The government announced on Friday that it would create its own time zone — “Pyongyang time” — and set its clocks 30 minutes behind those ofSouth Korea and Japan. The change is set for Aug. 15, the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in World War II, which freed the Korean Peninsula from Japanese rule.
The current time on the peninsula — nine hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time — was set by Japan. North Korean public pronouncements can be as virulently anti-Japanese as they are anti-American, so it was natural that the clock change would be billed as throwing off a hated vestige of colonial domination.
“The wicked Japanese imperialists committed such unpardonable crimes as depriving Korea of even its standard time,” the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency said on Friday.
South Korea has its own historical grudges with Japan, but the time of day is not one of them. Jeong Joon-hee, a spokesman for the Unification Ministry in the South, said that following Pyongyang’s lead now would be confusing and expensive for a country that, unlike the North, is thoroughly integrated with the global economy.
Japan is widely resented on both sides of the border, but the North enshrines its hostility toward Japanese and other foreign “imperialists” in its Constitution and puts the resentment at the core of the country’s ruling philosophy of “juche,” or self-reliance. The founder ofNorth Korea, Kim Il-sung, fought as a guerrilla against the Japanese before independence.
Mr. Kim died in 1994, and his grandson Kim Jong-un runs the country now, doing whatever he can to highlight his ancestry, even imitating his grandfather’s hairstyle and the way he held his cigarettes. His grandfather’s rhetorical themes are invoked to justify policies like maintaining an enormous military and developing nuclear weapons.
Chang Yong-seok, a North Korea expert at Seoul National University, saw the clock change in the same vein.
“With the new time zone, Kim Jong-un is reasserting his code words of self-reliance and national dignity to his people,” Mr. Chang said. “Whatever difficulties and inconveniences the new time zone may cause are nothing to his government, compared with its propaganda value at home.”
To be honest, they should probably turn the clock back a few centuries in that country. Because they certainly don’t act like modern, rational nation.
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