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North Korea To Use Same Time Zone As South Korea From May 5

Pyongyang to unify time zone with Seoul from May 5

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae. VOA

North Korea will unify its time zone with South Korea’s starting from May 5 in a bid to promote the two countries’ reconciliation, Pyongyang’s state media said Monday.

During a historic summit with President Moon Jae-in on April 27, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said that his country will move its clock 30 minutes forward, back to the same time as in the South, reports Yonhap News Agency.

North Korea decided to push back its standard time by 30 minutes in August 2015, claiming the move was aimed at removing the vestige of Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

The two Koreas previously used an identical standard time, set in the period.

The Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, North Korea’s parliament, has decided to adopt a decree on synchronizing the country with Seoul’s time zone starting this Saturday, according to Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

Kim jong Un
Kim Jong-un is the Supreme leader of North Korea. IANS

Kim said the move to unify the time zone is “the first practical step for national reconciliation and unity”, according to KCNA.

“Noting that it was a painful wrench to see two clocks indicating Pyongyang and Seoul times hanging on a wall of the summit venue, he proposed unifying the times of the north and the south before doing anything else,” KCNA quoted Kim as saying.

Moon’s chief press secretary Yoon Young-chan told reporters about Kim’s surprise proposal on Sunday.

Re-setting the standard time was a verbal promise by Kim, not an issue that was agreed upon at last week’s summit.

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But the North’s swift announcement apparently reflects its resolve to improve ties with Seoul and implement a set of inter-Korean summit agreements, reports Yonhap News Agency.

“The move seems to indicate Chairman Kim’s active willingness for improving inter-Korean relations and seeking harmony with the international community. It also shows the country’s resolve to implement inter-Korean agreements at a fast pace,” Baik Tae-hyun, spokesman at Seoul’s Unification Minister, told a press briefing on Monday.

Moon and Kim held the summit at the border village of Panmunjom and agreed to seek “complete” denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and push for declaring an end to the 1950-53 Korean War this year.

On Sunday, North Korea offered to close down its nuclear test site in Punggye-ri also in May.  IANS

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S.Korea Removes N.Korea As Its ‘Enemy’ In Its Military Policy Document

The Defense Ministry says North Korea maintains an active duty force of 1.28 million troops, compared with the South’s 599,000 active duty troops.

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Korea, Enemy
South and North Korean officials unveil the sign of Seoul to Pyeongyang during a groundbreaking ceremony for the reconnection of railways and roads at the Panmun Station in Kaesong, North Korea, Dec. 26, 2018. VOA

South Korea has dropped a reference to North Korea as its “enemy” in the military’s updated policy document, reflecting President Moon Jae-in’s initiative in achieving détente with Pyongyang.

The Defense Ministry has labeled the North as enemy in its biennial policy document since 2010, when 50 South Koreans were killed in separate attacks on an island and a naval vessel blamed on Pyongyang.

The absence of the “enemy” label in the 2018 document, published Tuesday, is likely to anger conservatives in South Korea, who say that President Moon’s efforts to build better relations with the regime of Kim Jong Un is undermining the South’s defense posture.

Korea, Enemy
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in inside the Peace House at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea, April 27, 2018. VOA

Kim’s New Year’s Day speech in 2017 offering to send a contingent of North Korean athletes to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea set off a series of diplomatic breakthroughs, including three summits with President Moon.

The newly established diplomatic ties have also led to a set of confidence-building measures, including dismantling dozens of all armed guard posts and landmines in the so-called Joint Security Area located within the 250-kilometer demilitarized zone (DMZ), where troops from both Koreas are face to face.

The South Korean Defense Ministry paper warns that North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction, a reference to its nuclear and missile program, continues to pose a “threat to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.”

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The Defense Ministry says North Korea maintains an active duty force of 1.28 million troops, compared with the South’s 599,000 active duty troops. The regime either possesses or is developing 14 different types of ballistic missiles, including five intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with a range of more than 5,500 kilometers. The North also owns “a considerable amount” of highly enriched uranium, along with 50 kilograms of weaponized plutonium. (VOA)