The two conventional age-counting systems used in South Korea have been brought into compliance with international norms by a new law, making people there one or two years younger.
The law abolishes a long-standing practice that counted time spent in the womb to declare South Koreans one year old at birth.
One method counted everyone as aging one year every January 1st rather than on their birthdays.
On Wednesday, the age-counting system changed to one that uses birthdates.
During his campaign for president last year, President Yoon Suk Yeol made a strong case for the change. “Unnecessary social and economic costs” were caused by the conventional age-counting techniques, he claimed.
Determining eligibility for government aid programs and insurance payouts, for instance, have given rise to disagreements.
In Korea, the centuries-old “Korean age” system—under which a person turns one at birth and gains a year on January 1—was once the most generally used method of computation. A baby born on December 31 will turn two the following day.
A different “counting age” system, which was also historically employed in the nation, starts counting at birth and adds a year on January 1.
For instance, a person born on June 29, 2003, would be 19 under the international system as of June 28, 20 under the “counting age” system, and 21 under the “Korean age” system as on June 28, 2023.
Last December, lawmakers decided to abandon the conventional counting procedures.
Despite the change, many current laws that use the “counting age” calendar year approach to determine an individual’s age will continue to be in effect. For instance, South Koreans can begin purchasing cigarettes and alcohol the year after they turn 19, not the day.
According to a survey conducted in January 2022 by the local firm Hankook Research, three out of four South Koreans also supported the standardization.
Some, like Jeongsuk Woo, are optimistic that the move will aid in destroying Korea’s culture of hierarchy.
The behavior of people has an unconscious overlay of ageism. Even the sophisticated age-based linguistic system demonstrates this. The 28-year-old stated, “I wish the elimination of the “Korean age” system and the adoption of the world standard get away of archaic artifacts of the past.
Hyun Jeong Byun, a different inhabitant, said: “I adore it, because now I’m two years younger. Since my birthday is in December, I’ve always thought that because of the Korean age system, I appear to be older than I am.
“Since Korea has adopted the international standard, I no longer have to justify my “Korean age” when I travel abroad.”
The medical industry in South Korea, according to the 31-year-old doctor, has already begun to use the international age system.
Other East Asian nations also employed the conventional age-counting techniques, although the majority no longer do.
North Korea adopted the international standard in the 1980s after Japan did so in 1950.
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