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South Koreans are about to look younger by a year or two thanks to a new law | CNN

Seoul, South Korea

South Koreans are about to become a year or two younger, thanks to a new law passed Thursday that aims to standardize how age is calculated across the country.

Today, it is common for South Koreans to have not just one age, but three: an “international age,” a “Korean age,” and a “calendar age.”

But to end the confusion, the country’s parliament has decreed that from June 2023 all official documents must use the standard “international age.”

That move, which follows a lengthy debate on the issue, will bring the country in line with most of the rest of the world and reduce legal discrepancies arising from the use of three different systems.

In South Korea, a person’s “international age” refers to the number of years since they were born and starts at zero, the same system used in most other countries.

But when asked their age in informal settings, most South Koreans will answer with their “Korean age,” which could be a year or even two years older than their “international age.”

Under this system, babies are considered one year old on the day they are born, and a year is added every January 1.

In some circumstances, South Koreans also use their “calendar age,” a kind of combination of international and Korean age, which considers babies to be zero years old on the day they are born and adds one year to their age every January 1. .

Take “Gangnam Style” singer Psy for example. Born December 31, 1977, he is considered 44 by international age; 45 per calendar year of age; and 46 by Korean age.

If this sounds confusing, it is, as everyday life in the field often shifts between the hodgepodge of different systems.

Most people use the Korean age, which has its roots in China, in everyday life and social settings, while the international age is more often used for legal and official matters, such as when dealing with laws. civilians.

However, some laws, including those regarding the legal ages for drinking, smoking, and conscription, use the calendar year age.

The law passed Thursday will standardize the use of the international age in all “judicial and administrative areas,” according to the parliament’s website and documents related to the bill.

“State and local governments will encourage citizens to use their ‘international age’ and will do the necessary promotion for it,” he says.

The decision is the result of years of campaigning by lawmakers fed up with multiple systems.

“The revision is aimed at reducing unnecessary socio-economic costs because legal and social disputes persist, as well as confusion due to different ways of calculating age,” Yoo Sang-bum of the ruling People’s Power Party told parliament, according to Reuters.

Another bill introduced by lawmaker Hwang Ju-hong in 2019 argued that in addition to sowing confusion, the three methods also caused conflict by “encouraging a culture of age-based hierarchy and avoiding certain months for delivery.”

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