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North Korea to unify time zone with South in conciliatory gesture

Muslim Times(Web Desk) – North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un is planning to unify his country’s time zone with South Korea in a gesture that could facilitate reconciliation between the two neighbors.

A spokesman for South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Sunday that Kim had promised during Friday’s inter-Korean summit to move his country’s clocks 30 minutes forward to unify with the South’s time zone.

Kim changed North Korea’s standard time to 30 minutes behind the South in 2015 when the country celebrated the 70th anniversary of its liberation from Japan’s colonial rule. Kim said at the time the move had a nationalistic rationale as the time zone returned to its pre-colonial situation before 1910.

“Since we were the ones who made the change from the standard time, we will go back to the original time. You can announce it publicly,” Yoon quoted Kim as saying during the summit, adding that Kim had found it “heartbreaking” that clocks hanging at the summit venue at the border truce village of Panmunjom showed different times for the two neighbors.

The spokesman said Kim’s decision was a “symbolic move” that could help improve ties between the two Koreas.

The decision comes amid widening efforts for a historic and definitive reconciliation in the Korean Peninsula. Kim accepted offers by Moon earlier this year to kick off the reconciliation process by sending a delegation of athletes to the Winter Olympics in South Korea. The move was followed by intensive shuttle diplomacy and Kim finally accepted to attend summits with Moon and US President Donald Trump.

Kim’s contribution to the rapprochement follows a series of missile and nuclear tests by North Korea last year which prompted the US and allies to pile huge economic pressure on Pyongyang through sanctions. Kim and Trump traded some unprecedented threats of war following the tests, sparking fears of a full-fledged nuclear confrontation in the region.

The Friday summit in Panmunjom, which was the third such meeting between the two Koreas in history, marked the first time Kim set foot on the south side of the border.

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