North Korea will establish its own time zone next week by putting the clocks back by 30 minutes.
Local time in North and South Korea and Japan has been the same since Japan’s rule over what was single Korea from 1910 to 1945.
The North’s official Korean Central News Agency said the establishment of “Pyongyang time” is aimed at rooting out the legacy of the Japanese colonial period.
It said the new time zone will take effect on August 15 – the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japanese rule at the end of the Second World War.
“The wicked Japanese imperialists committed such unpardonable crimes as depriving Korea of even its standard time while mercilessly trampling down its land with 5,000-year-long history and culture and pursuing the unheard-of policy of obliterating the Korean nation,” KCNA said.
Many Koreans, especially the elderly, on both sides of the border still harbour deep resentment against Japan over its colonial occupation.
Hundreds of thousands of Koreans were forced to fight as frontline soldiers, work in slave-labour conditions or serve as prostitutes in brothels operated by the Japanese military during the war.
South Korea says it uses the same time zone as Japan because it is more practical and conforms to international practice.
Seoul’s unification ministry said the North’s action could bring minor disruption at a jointly-run industrial park at the North Korean border city of Kaesong and other inter-Korean affairs.
Spokesman Jeong Joon-Hee said the North’s new time zone could also hamper efforts to narrow widening differences between the Koreas.
The two Koreas were divided into the capitalist, US-backed South and the socialist, Soviet-supported North after their 1945 liberation.
They remain split along the world’s most heavily fortified border since their 1950-1953 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.