Seoul’s Ministry of Unification (MoU) today announced it would not protest North Korea’s decision to use the new “Pyongyang time zone” at the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC), despite the confusion the new measure could cause.
The DPRK began using the new system over the weekend, with North Korean authorities claiming they no longer wanted to use a time zone implemented during the Japanese colonial period.
“It is very regrettable that the North pushed ahead with its move to push back the standard time,” MoU spokesman Jeong Joon-hee said a regular press briefing in Seoul.
Jeong added that time differences have not yet caused any confusion in the facility, although some involved in the KIC’s operation disagree.
“The time change adds to the confusion at the KIC and the companies there because we are now having to deal with two different time zones when dealing with customers,” a source at Kaesong who wished to remain anonymous told NK News.
“South Korean workers show up at the regular Korean Standard Time (KST), but North Korean workers are showing up half an hour later to reflect the time change in the DPRK. South Koreans will leave at 5 p.m. KST but the North Korean workers will leave half an hour later,” the source said.
Despite assurances from the MoU on helping with potential confusion, the source added that the new times zone represented how competing rule sets from the two governments caused frustration for business owners at the complex.
There are currently 124 South Korean companies operating at the KIC. Between them they employ approximately 55,000 DRPK workers.
The joint industrial park has often been a flashpoint for inter-Korean relations. In 2013, rapidly escalation tensions between the two Koreas led to the zone’s closure from April to September.
Additional reporting: Ina Yoon
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