back to top

North Korea Just Created Its Own Time Zone As A "Screw You" To Japan

Clocks throughout the country are to be set back a half hour because eff Tokyo.

Posted on

Seventy years ago – towards the end of World War II – the Korean Peninsula was liberated from Japan, an event that would cause it to be split into the North and South Koreas that we know today.

MPI / Getty Images

During the 35 years when Korea was under Japanese rule, the clocks were set to run at the same time as Tokyo, because it only made sense. Following the independence, and split, of the peninsula, the clocks in the capital cities of Seoul and Pyongyang stayed the same.

In order to correct the sins of the past, North Korea has declared that all clocks across the country will be set to match up with Pyongyang, the country's capital. In practice, that means setting clocks a half hour back, as this broadcast explains.

"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," state news agency KCNA said to justify the decision.

Seoul's Unification Ministry said Friday that 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.

But don't go rolling back your clock just yet, Pyongyang readers. The changes won't take effect until Aug. 15, to commemorate the anniversary of when Kim Il Sung, North Korea's first leader, "crushed the brigandish Japanese imperialists."

Hayes Brown is a world news editor and reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Hayes Brown at

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.