Social Issues

South Korea scraps traditional age counting system, citizens now younger

Seoul, Jun 28 (EFE).- South Korea on Wednesday officially stopped using its traditional age counting systems in administrative documents and switched into the international method, a change that makes every citizen a year or two younger.

From now on, South Korea will be using the international standard method that counts people’s age based on the day they are born.

Under the traditional Korean system, everyone was considered one year old at birth, taking into account the months spent in the womb, and a year was added to everyone’s age on Jan.1 instead of on their birthdays.

Hence, a baby born on Dec.31 would be considered two years old on Jan.1, despite having lived only for one day.

A third alternative system, used in military and educational documents, considered a person zero at birth and added a year on Jan.1. This is to remain in place for now.

South Koreans for years have criticized that the use of three systems had created confusion, added unnecessary social and economic costs and also led to disputes, particularly when processing social benefits and acquiring medical services.

President Yoon Suk Yeol had promised to scrap the traditional age counting system when he assumed office in 2022.

The same year, the parliament voted to abolish the traditional system and adopt the international age counting methods.

Now, Taiwan is the only Asian country that still officially uses the age-old traditional Chinese age counting system.

Other countries in the region, such as China, Japan and even North Korea had switched to the international system decades ago.

However, South Korea’s Ministry of Gender and Family Equality on Tuesday clarified that the legal age – 19 years – to drink alcohol and buy tobacco would continue to be calculated based on the existing method. EFE


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