North Korea has held celebrations at midnight to commemorate the end of Japanese occupation and usher in the country's new time zone. The nation's clocks were turned back 30 minutes.
Bells were rung in Pyongyang as the nation's clocks were set back 30 minutes to mark the August 15, 1945 anniversary of the Korean Peninsula's liberation from colonial rule at the end of World War II.
"This is a great event in the history of the Korean nation, as it is of great significance in completely eradicating the leftovers of the Japanese imperialists in all fabrics of social life," said the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency said in a commentary earlier this week.
Both Koreas had shared the same time zone as Japan, nine hours ahead of GMT, which was established under Japan's 1910-1945 colonial rule.
North Korea's decision to change its time zone came as a surprise even to South Korea, whose president criticized Pyongyang for not coordinating the move with Seoul.
However, the effort to erase the legacy of the colonial period resonates with many Koreans on both sides of the Demilitarized Zone. Memories of the harsh rule of the Japanese are still vivid and many Koreans still harbor deep resentment toward Tokyo.
North Korea calls the new time zone, "Pyongyang Time." It was originally adopted by the then-unified Korea in 1908, but was changed to the Japanese time zone on January 1, 1912, two years after the peninsula was colonized.
av/bw (AP, AFP)