North Korea will set its clocks forward half an hour on 5 May to return to the same time zone as South Korea.
The move is a “first practical step for national reconciliation and unity,” according to the North’s state media.
Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae In had spoken about the time difference during the inter-Korean summit on 27 April and had verbally agreed to the change.
“There are two clocks hanging in the House of Peace waiting room. One is Seoul time and the other is Pyeongyang time. To see it is very painful. Let’s unify our time first.” — Kim Jong Un
The decision is expected to prepare for future inter-Korean exchanges between the nations, including economic cooperation.
North Korea changed its clocks to “Pyeongyang Time”, in August 2015 to mark the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japanese rule, changing it back to GMT+8.30, which was Korean standard time before Japanese occupation during World War II.
The North Korean media stated in 2015 that the change was to free the country of “the wicked Japanese imperialists” who “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.”
While over the years the time difference has had an impact on the flow of trade between the two nations, on a more practical level the difference caused issues during the inter-Korean summit.
Reporters were confused as to what time to report the leaders’s arrival, with North Koreans reporting a 9am arrival and South Koreans reporting 8.30am. The time was changed to North Korean standard time.
The official time change is one step forward in the process to end the Korean war.