In a significant legal shift, every person in South Korea suddenly finds themselves at least a year younger due to the implementation of new laws.
The country has adopted the internationally recognized method of counting age, which differs from its previous traditional practices. Under the previous system, individuals were considered one year old at birth, accounting for time spent in the womb. Additionally, South Korea followed a unique “Korean age” system where people aged up by a year on January 1st instead of their actual birth date.
With the recent law change, South Koreans will now align with the international age calculation method, where age is counted from zero at birth, and each birthday adds another year. As a result, someone born on New Year’s Eve will turn two years old on New Year’s Day, marking a departure from the previous practice where they would have been considered one year old.
Although the “counting age” system will still be used in certain areas of law, such as determining legal drinking age, the new legislation could result in South Koreans having their ages reduced on official documents.
The adjustment aims to minimize confusion, legal disputes, and complaints related to age calculation. A government survey conducted in September the previous year indicated that 86% of South Koreans were willing to adopt the international age system in their daily lives.
Reflecting on the change, Choi Hyun-ji, a 27-year-old office worker in Seoul, expressed her excitement, stating, “I was about to turn 30 next year [under the traditional Korean age system], but now I have some more time earned, and I love it.” This shift in age calculation has brought a sense of rejuvenation and delight to individuals who feel like they are getting younger.