Everyone in South Korea Could Become One Year Younger After 'Korean Age' System Is Scrapped

"Korean age" might soon be abolished.
IMAGE UNSPLASH

Ever get confused about “Korean age”? That might soon become a thing of the past as South Korea’s new president-elect plans to scrap the confusing Korean age system by 2023. 

The South Korean aging system counts newborn citizens as one year old on the day of their birth. Because of “Korean age,” South Koreans are considered one year older than their “universal” age. In short, a South Korean considered 26 in South Korea would be considered 25 in the rest of the world. 

South Korea’s new president-elect Yoon Suk-yeol announced his plans to abolish the “Korean age” concept in order to standardize age for practical reasons. 

"Due to the different calculations of legal and social age, we have experienced unnecessary social and economic costs from persistent confusion and disputes over calculating age when receiving social, welfare and other administrative services or signing or interpreting various contracts," said Lee Yong-ho, chief of Yoon's transition team's political, judicial, and administrative subcommittee. 

The issue has been raised a number of times over the last few years, but the pandemic’s vaccine guidelines were the most recent age complication for South Koreans. Health authorities and the public were confused by international COVID-19 vaccine guidelines that pertained to age limits due to their "multiple" ages. 

"There would be much less confusion if we could have the same idea of what it means to be how old we actually are,” said Lee, whose team plans to scrap the Korean age system by early 2023. 

Curiously enough, Koreans actually have three ages: their international age (where they are considered zero years old at birth), their Korean age (where they are considered one year old at birth), and their “New Year’s” age (where their age increases every New Year’s Day, not their birthday). 

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Anri Ichimura
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