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South Korea. Everyone will wake up at least a year younger on Wednesday

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South Korean authorities have decided to abolish the traditional method of determining age, as a result of the changes, citizens of the country will be at least a year younger. However, the new system will not apply to all spheres of life, The Korean Times reported on Tuesday.

The Korean parliament passed a bill last Thursday to abolish the traditional age-determination method, making all Koreans at least a year younger.

According to the Korean traditional age system, a newborn is already one year old when it is born, and then it gains a year every January 1. The situation is different in the international system, where a person’s age is deducted from zero at the time of birth and the next year is added on the date of birth.

For example, on June 26, 2023, a person born on June 30, 2003 is 19 years old and turns 20 on June 30 of this year according to the international system. However, in the Korean system, this person is already 21 years old. Another example showing the complications of the Korean system is a child born on December 31 who turns two years old just after midnight.

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Koreans report “Korean” age on a daily basis, and the lack of specific age rules to date has led to the use of both the Korean age system and the international standard, causing unnecessary confusion. At the beginning of vaccination against COVID-19 there was uncertainty about which system the patient’s age should be counted against.

Seoul, South KoreaShutterstock

“The changes are significant as the use of the international age system now becomes a clear rule,” said Government Legislation Minister Lee Wan-kyu during a media briefing. “It was one of the main promises of President Yoon Suk Yeol’s election campaign to reduce social and administrative turmoil,” he added.

The traditional formula is still used in schools and the army

Although the system will change, some aspects of the old provision will remain, the Ministry of Government Legislation announced in a press release.

South Korea’s traditional method of calculating age based on year of birth, while not taking into account a person’s day or month of birth, will remain in effect in certain cases, including entering elementary schools and purchasing alcohol or tobacco.

In Korea, people can buy alcohol and tobacco from January 1 of the year they turn 19 in the international system. This year, people born in 2004 or earlier can buy such products regardless of their date of birth.

In this system, age is calculated based on the year of birth only, and the day or month of birth is not taken into account. This means that a person born in 2004 or earlier can buy age-restricted products regardless of their date of birth.

Similarly, for the assessment of eligibility for national military service, the traditional formula will remain in effect and those born in 2004 will be eligible for service this year.

School admissions will also deviate from the international standard. Children will be admitted to primary schools from 1 March of the year following their 6th birthday in the international age system, meaning that those born in 2016 and 2017 will start school regardless of their date of birth.

Main photo source: Shutterstock



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