Apple Accommodates for North Korea’s new Time Zone

David Lee, Sept. 21, 2015, 9:31 a.m.

Apple's smart devices began showing Pyongyang Time separately from Seoul Time with the launch of the new iOS 9 operating system. North Korea announced last month it will set its clocks back half an hour behind South Korea and Japan, joining a small handful of countries, including India and Iran, that spurn the convention of GMT +/- full hours. 

Until then, the North set its clocks on Coordinated Universal Time plus nine hours, calibrated on the position of Tokyo to Greenwich. Most countries set their times in one-hour increments. Half-hour increments cause a lot of inconvenience in exchanging aviation, maritime navigation and meteorological data. 

President Park Geun-hye at the time claimed North Korea's decision to set its clocks 30 minutes out of whack with the rest of the world "goes against efforts to promote inter-Korean cooperation and peace."

Industry watchers say Apple is merely trying to accommodate a significant number of people in North Korea who use iPhones, which are not officially sold there. But foreigners who frequently visit the North or affluent North Koreans who have been abroad still use them. 

North Korea does not offer 3G or LTE mobile communication services, but smartphones can be used by tapping into Wifi connections. The North started manufacturing its own smartphones last year under the brandname "Pyongyang Touch," which resemble the iPhone in appearance and are evidently made in China. 


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