However, the medical and legal documents in South Korea have always used the international method since the 1960s.
South Koreans will soon be able to call themselves a year or two younger. Thanks to the new method of calculating ages according to international standards. They are scrapping the traditional method of counting ages. On Thursday, the South Korean parliament voted to scrap the country's current "Korean Age" system, as reported by PEOPLE. From June 2023, Korean will be calculating their age on their birthdate.
Everyone in South Korea is about to become one year younger.— Dean M Thomson (@DeanMThomson) December 9, 2022
At present South Koreans have a Korean age, in which a person is one at birth and then gains a year on the first day of each new year. But this is to be officially scrapped and the international standard adopted.
Currently, Koreans are one year old at birth, and add one year to the number every January 1. So a baby born on New Year's Eve becomes two years as soon as the next year starts. Also, there is a different system to calculate the age of men who enter national service and the legal age to drink and smoke, according to The Guardian. In that system, the age is calculated from zero at birth and a year is added on New Year's Day. So, because of this when next year the rule changes Koreans would be one or two years younger.
Congratulations to South Koreans who will soon become younger 👍— plainmrmountain (@plainmrmountain) December 9, 2022
This traditional Korean method of calculation age was also prevalent in other countries like China and Japan, which also shifted to the newer international system. However, the medical and legal documents in South Korea have always used the international method since the 1960s. But from now on, all official documents will also follow the suit. South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol had promised to move to the International method to calculate age as part of his election campaign. Presidential spokesperson Lee Jae-myoung said the new age system "follows the global standard and puts an end to unnecessary social and economic confusions." Yoo Sang-bum, a member of the ruling People Power Party, told parliament that the change is to end the confusion caused by calculating ages in different methods. "The revision is aimed at reducing unnecessary socioeconomic costs because legal and social disputes, as well as confusion, persist due to the different ways of calculating age.”
Lee Wan-kyu, South Korean minister of government legislation, said lowering peoples' ages will possibly lead to good results. He said, "People finding their age one or two years younger will create a positive social impact." In the past, the traditional approach had led to criticism from politicians claiming that this method has left South Korea behind the times, whereas otherwise the country is seen as an Asian economy with global technological and cultural powers. Jeong Da-eun, a 29-year-old office worker, accepts the change that is happening. “I remember foreigners looking at me with puzzlement because it took me so long to come back with an answer,” she said. “Who wouldn’t welcome getting a year or two younger?”
Though it's unclear where these systems originated one theory is that turning one year old at birth is done by taking into account the time that one spends in the womb. The theory behind adding one year on January 1 is even more complicated. Some experts say that ancient Koreans placed their year of birth within the Chinese 60-year calendar cycle, as there were no calendars, they just added one more year on the first day of the lunar calendar.