Embracing the Winds of age Change in South Korea.

South Korea passed a law in December to do away with the old system of determining age and fully implement the new one.

China and Japan, two Asian nations that used this form of traditional age counting, abandoned the practice decades ago, but South Korea kept it in place.

This ancient practice of age counting is referred to as “The East Asian age reckoning.” In this system, rather than on their birthday, a person’s age is increased by one at the start of each calendar year, making them one year old at birth. In addition, regardless of actual birthdate, everyone’s age advances simultaneously on January 1.

When he sought for office, President Yoon Suk Yeol made a strong case for the shift. When the new regulations that mandate using only the international method of counting ages come into force in June 2023, this confusing array of systems will at least vanish from official papers.

A photo of President Yoon Suk Yeol photo from the Korea Times.

This change aims to lessen unnecessary socio-economic expenses because the various methods of measuring age continue to cause confusion, disputes over law, and societal issues.

To calculate someone’s age you would start with the person’s birth year and add one for each year that has passed. If the person hasn’t yet celebrated their birthday, you would deduct one from their Korean age, and if they have celebrated it already that year, you would deduct two.

In official documents or legal proceedings, this traditional approach of age calculation is not frequently used.

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