South Korea has passed a law that abolishes the country’s traditional age-counting method. Adoption of an international standard in this respect will mean that Koreans will be recorded in official documents as one or two years younger.
In June 2023, the traditional age counting system will cease to apply in South Korea, according to which Koreans have already counted one year of life at the time of birth, and each new year is added on January 1.
“The change is aimed at reducing unnecessary socio-economic costs, because different ways of counting age create legal and social disputes and confusion,” Yoo Sang-bum of the ruling People’s Power Party said in a speech to the Korean parliament, quoted by Reuters.
29-year-old Jeong Da-eun is happy about this change. As she admits, she always had to think twice when asked about her age. “I remember how the foreigners looked at me in surprise as I thought about the answer,” she recalls. And he adds with a wink: – Who wouldn’t like to be younger by a year or two?
In South Korea, due to the traditional age counting system, there is also a separate system for calculating the age of enlistment or the age for drinking alcohol and smoking – in this case, a person’s age is calculated from zero at birth, and each subsequent age is added together with beginning of the new calendar year on January 1.
At the same time in medical and legal documents South Korea since the early 1960s, he has been using international age counting standards – counting from zero at birth and adding years on the exact date of birth.
Traditional age counting system in South Korea
As noted by the British newspaper “Guardian”, it is not entirely clear where South Korea’s unusual, traditional age-counting system comes from. One theory is that starting life with one year already taken into account should be associated with fetal time spent in the mother’s womb. Others look for connections with the ancient Asian numeral system, in which the concept of zero did not function.
Explaining why Koreans add another year on January 1 is more complicated.
One theory is that the ancient Koreans placed their year of birth in the Chinese lunar calendar, which is based on the 12-year “small cycles” repeating five times, together creating a 60-year cycle. In those days, when regular calendars did not function, Koreans used to ignore the exact date of their birth and therefore added a year of life to the first day of the lunar calendar.
Why do Koreans “age” on January 1? This happened with the popularization of the Western calendar in South Korea, in which January 1 is the first day of the year – explains “Guardian”.
Koreans will rejuvenate. By a year or two
The standardization of the age-counting system by the South Korean authorities means that after the entry into force of the new law, it may be necessary to replace identity documents with those showing the age of a citizen according to the international system, based on the exact day of birth. As a consequence, in official documents, Koreans will become – depending on the date of birth – a year or even two years younger.
Main photo source: BaitoeyPYN / Shutterstock.com