North Korea to align with South's time zone as first practical step toward reconciliation

SEOUL, April 30 (Reuters) - North Korea will shift its time zone 30 minutes earlier to align with South Korea starting May 5 "as a first practical step for national reconciliation and unity," the North's state media said Monday.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said it was "a painful wrench" to see two clocks showing different Pyongyang and Seoul times on a wall at the summit venue during the historic meeting Friday with President Moon Jae-in, KCNA said.

Meanwhile, China will send the government's top diplomat, Wang Yi, to visit North Korea on Wednesday and Thursday this week, the foreign ministry said on Monday.

The time change report confirmed news from South Korean officials on Sunday that Kim pledged to scrap the northern time zone, which was created in 2015 to mark the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japanese rule after World War Two.

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Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-In meet at DMZ
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Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-In meet at DMZ
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shake hands at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 27, 2018. Korea Summit Press Pool/Pool via Reuters TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attend a welcoming ceremony in the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 27, 2018. Korea Summit Press Pool/Pool via Reuters
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meet in the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 27, 2018. Korea Summit Press Pool/Pool via Reuters
People watch a TV showing a live broadcast of the inter-Korean summit, at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, April 27, 2018. REUTERS/Jorge Silva
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attend a welcoming ceremony in the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 27, 2018. Korea Summit Press Pool/Pool via Reuters
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meet in the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 27, 2018. Korea Summit Press Pool/Pool via Reuters
People watch a TV showing a live broadcast of the inter-Korean summit, at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, April 27, 2018. REUTERS/Jorge Silva
People wave the Korean unification flag during the inter-Korean summit, near the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, in Paju, South Korea, April 27, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-ji
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meet in the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 27, 2018. Korea Summit Press Pool/Pool via Reuters
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attend a welcoming ceremony in the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 27, 2018. Korea Summit Press Pool/Pool via Reuters
Soldiers keep watch on the Grand Unification Bridge that leads to the Peace House, the venue for the Inter-Korean summit, near the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, in Paju, South Korea, April 27, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-ji
People hold the Korean unification flag as they watch a news report on the inter-Korean summit, near the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, in Paju, South Korea, April 27, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-ji
People watch a TV showing a live broadcast of the inter-Korean summit, at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, April 27, 2018. REUTERS/Jorge Silva
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attend a welcoming ceremony in the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 27, 2018. Korea Summit Press Pool/Pool via Reuters
People watch a television news screen showing live footage of the inter-Korean summit between South Korea's President Moon Jae-in (on screen L) and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (on screen R) at a railway station in Seoul on April 27, 2018. - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the South's President Moon Jae-in shook hands on April 27 over the Military Demarcation Line that divides their countries in a gesture laden with symbolism ahead of a historic summit. (Photo by Jung Yeon-je / AFP) (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
Vehicles carrying South Korean president Moon Jae-in approach a military check point on the Unification Bridge, linked to North Korea, near the demilitarized zone (DMZ) in Paju, South Korea, on Friday, April 27, 2018. Kim Jong Un�on Friday became the first North Korean leader to enter South Korea since the peninsula was divided almost seven decades ago as talks begin over dismantling his nuclear weapons program. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Vehicles carrying South Korean president Moon Jae-in pass a military check point on the Unification Bridge, linked to North Korea, near the demilitarized zone (DMZ) in Paju, South Korea, on Friday, April 27, 2018. Kim Jong Un�on Friday became the first North Korean leader to enter South Korea since the peninsula was divided almost seven decades ago as talks begin over dismantling his nuclear weapons program. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images
South Korean President Moon Jae-in (C) is greeted by his supporters as he leaves for the truce village of Panmunjom, near the presidential Blue House in Seoul on April 27, 2018 ahead of the inter-Korea summit. - North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un and the South's president Moon Jae-in will meet at the Military Demarcation Line that divides the peninsula before their summit on March 27, Seoul said, in an occasion laden with symbolism. (Photo by Jung Yeon-je / various sources / AFP) (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
South Korean President Moon Jae-in (C) is greeted by his supporters as he leaves for the truce village of Panmunjom, near the presidential Blue House in Seoul on April 27, 2018 ahead of the inter-Korea summit. - North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un and the South's president Moon Jae-in will meet at the Military Demarcation Line that divides the peninsula before their summit on March 27, Seoul said, in an occasion laden with symbolism. (Photo by Jung Yeon-je / various sources / AFP) (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
The motorcade carrying South Korean President Moon Jae-in passes through Seoul as he heads to a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on April 27, 2018. - North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un and the South's president Moon Jae-in will meet at the Military Demarcation Line that divides the peninsula before their summit on March 27, Seoul said, in an occasion laden with symbolism. (Photo by GREG BAKER / AFP) (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
South Korean President Moon Jae-in (C) is greeted by his supporters as he leaves for the truce village of Panmunjom, near the presidential Blue House in Seoul on April 27, 2018 ahead of the inter-Korea summit. - North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un and the South's president Moon Jae-in will meet at the Military Demarcation Line that divides the peninsula before their summit on March 27, Seoul said, in an occasion laden with symbolism. (Photo by Jung Yeon-je / various sources / AFP) (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meet in the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 27, 2018. Korea Summit Press Pool/Pool via Reuters
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meet in the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 27, 2018. Korea Summit Press Pool/Pool via Reuters TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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South Korea and Japan are in the same time zone, nine hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.

"It is not an abstract meaning that the north and the south become one but it is just a process in which the north and the south turn their different and separated things into the same and single ones," Kim said, according to the dispatch.

At their summit Friday, Kim and Moon declared they would take steps to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended only with a truce, and work towards the "denuclearisation" of the Korean peninsula. The declaration didn't offer any specifics on what that meant or how it would progress.

Much now hinges on Kim's upcoming summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, who said the meeting could happen over the next three to four weeks. No location has been announced.

Kim also told Moon he would soon invite experts and journalists from the United States and South Korea when the country dismantles its Punggye-ri nuclear testing site, the Blue House said on Sunday.

North Korea has conducted all six of its nuclear tests at the site, a series of tunnels dug into the mountains in the northeastern part of the country. Some experts and researchers have speculated that the most recent - and by far largest - blast in September had rendered the entire site unusable.

But Kim said there were two additional, larger tunnels that remain "in very good condition" beyond the existing one, which experts believe may have collapsed.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday he told Kim during their secret meeting at the beginning of April that North Korea would have to agree to take "irreversible" steps toward shutting its nuclear weapons program in any deal with the United States. (Reporting by Ju-min Park in SEOUL and Matthew Miller in BEIJING. Writing by Malcolm Foster. Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

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