A New Law Will Make All Koreans at Least One Year Younger Next Year?
South Koreans will become one or two years younger next year, when they start counting ages like other countries do. Right now, a baby there is one year old when they're born, and a year is added every January 1st.
Koreans use a traditional aging system that's different than the rest of the world. In fact, a person in South Korea may use THREE different ages, depending on the situation.
1. Koreans are considered to be one year old when they're born, and a year is added every January 1st. So if you were born today, you'd be one . . . and then TWO in a few weeks, on January 1st.
This is the age most commonly cited in everyday Korean life.
2. A second age is used for official requirements . . . like mandatory military service, and the legal age to drink or smoke. That's the "counting age," and it's zero on the day you're born, but years are added on January 1st, not your birthday.
3. Then, there's the "international age," which is what we do: You're zero when you're born, and a year is added every year on your birthday.
So as of TODAY, this means that a Korean born on December 31st of 2002, would be 19 under the international system, 20 under the counting system, and 21 under the Korean system.
Naturally, this has become confusing . . . especially internationally . . . so yesterday, the South Korean parliament passed a law to scrap the two traditional methods, and just use the international age for everything.
The change won't go into effect until June . . . but at that point, Koreans will technically be one or two years younger than they are today.
(BBC / Reuters / 90-Day Korean / Washington Post)