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South Koreans to become year younger as South Korea changes system for calculating age

South Koreans are all set to become a year or two younger after the country’s parliament passed laws to abolish the traditional method of age calculation in the country.

This traditional method declares people a year old at birth and adds a year to their age every Jan. 1 — even if they were born the day before and will now be replaced by the system used elsewhere in the world on June 2023, according to a report in the Washington Post.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol had promised this change during his campaign and had cited social and administrative costs caused by the traditional method when juxtaposed with the international system.

Notably, since the 1960s, the country has been tallying the official ages of its citizens based on the international system, under which babies start at age zero and years are added every birthday.

However, certain laws still use a separate method of calculating age based on the year of birth regardless of the month. The so-called “year age” method applies when determining age for mandatory conscription or school grades.

These different methods often left South Korean citizens confused about how old they were depending on the circumstances they are in and this change is expected to simplify it,

According to Presidential spokesman Lee Jae-myoung the simplified age system “follows the global standard and puts an end to unnecessary social and economic confusions.” The change is expected to address domestic as well as international communication issues caused by differences in age-counting methods.

Experts say the method was kept in South Korea due to its culture of hierarchy.

“People finding their age one or two years younger will create a positive social impact as well,” said Lee Wan-kyu, South Korean minister of government legislation. He said the government will widely promote the new age system to help it settle in the everyday life of the citizens.

Not only administrative measures but also social efforts to break down the rank-based culture” are needed to incorporate the change, Kim Jung-kwon, law professor at Seoul’s Chungang University, told a governmental panel on the issue last month, as reported by the Washington Post


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