South Koreans Wake Up a Year or Two Younger as New Law Takes Effect

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South Koreans woke up Wednesday a year or two younger as the country replaced its own age-counting methods with the international standard.

Why it matters: The new standardization is expected to reduce social confusion, legal problems and other conflicts stemming from the mixing of age calculations, officials have said.

How we got here: The international standard for age counting begins at zero on the day a person is born and adds one year each birthday.

  • Since the 1960s, the country has used the international standard for medical and legal documents, per Reuters.

But under the traditional method, people were one year old at the time of birth, with an additional year added every Jan. 1, according to the Korea Times.

  • A baby born on Dec. 31 would be considered two years old just 24 hours later.

A third “calendar age” system combined the international and traditional method, counting age from zero at birth but adding a year every Jan. 1, per CNN.

State of play: The regulation, which was approved by South Korea’s national assembly in December, fulfills a campaign promise by South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol to adopt the international standard, Lee said Monday.

  • The international standard for age counting will now be used for the majority of administrative and civil matters, including contracts and official documents, per the Korea Times.
  • However the mixed “calendar age” system will still be used for calculating the legal age for alcohol consumption, military conscription and school enrollment.

By the numbers: About 86% of respondents to a government poll last year said they would adopt the use of the international standard, per CNN.

Source : AXIOS