All South Koreans rejuvenate this June 1

All South Koreans rejuvenate this June 1

June 1, 2023, 8:26 AM

June 1, 2023, 8:26 AM

It is not thanks to a miraculous recipe or an exceptional rejuvenation cure, but to a legal decision. The Government has put an end to an administrative peculiarity that allowed the coexistence of three different age accounting systems. This law, which enters into force on Thursday, June 1, is a standardization measure to limit confusion and adapt to international standards.

With Nicolas Rocca, RFI correspondent in Seoul

Asking a South Korean their age does not guarantee an easy answer. International age? Korean age? Or marital age? The three accounting systems will eventually disappear, at least in official documents.

The international age assumes that you age one year on each birthday. In South Korea it is used for administrative purposes, and the Korean age is still the norm in everyday life. Rooted in China, this system counts the nine months spent in the womb, rounded up to a year. Therefore, a child is born with one year. One more year is added on January 1, not the child’s birthday.

Finally, a third accounting method mixes the two systems. A child is born with zero years and ages one year on January 1. It is mostly used for military service. South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, born in December 1960, is therefore 62, 63 or 64 years old.

This confusion disappears on Thursday, June 1: the international age becomes the only system for administrative purposes, thanks to a law passed last December. But it’s hard to imagine Korean age disappearing from the private sphere, as it’s widely used in a country where the social hierarchy is still influenced by the year of birth.

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