When it comes to South Korean culture and traditions, one of the most confusing aspects for netizens has been the issue of age. Compared to a lot of the Western world, Korea has a very different system.
For example, BTS‘s V was born on December 30, 1995. According to Korean aging, he was one year old on the day of his birth and two years old just a few days later on New Year’s Day.
On December 8, the South Korean parliament passed a law that would get rid of Korea’s two traditional methods of counting age.
What Is The Current System?
In Korea, there are currently two systems of calculating age that differs from the international standard.
The most commonly used system is known as the “Korean age system.” With this, when a person is born, they are already one year old, and then on the first day of each year, they gain a year.
Another system that is more similar to international methods but is mainly used for calculating legal ages for drinking, smoking, and military conscription is the “counting age.” With this method, a person’s age is calculated from zero at birth, and a year is added on January 1.
By also using the international standard, it can become confusing. For example, TXT‘s Soobin, who was born in December 2000 would be 22 under the international system, 21 under the counting system, and 22 under the traditional Korean system.
What Would The New System Mean
South Korea also uses the more international method of age, but it will now become the standard as the government fulfills its promise to reduce confusion. From June 2023, the so-called “Korean Age” system will no longer be permitted on official documents. It means that everyone in Korea will effectively become younger through their system.
For example, BTS’s Jungkook was born in September 1997, and in Korea, his age is 26 years old. Yet, once the new system comes into place, he will be 24 years old until September 1, 2023, when he becomes 26 years old.
Although it is not confirmed, the change might also mean that male K-Pop idols can delay their mandatory military service by two years at best. In the current system, it is only possible to delay their service until they are 28 years old (Korean Age). With the changes, it means that they can now wait until they are considered 26 years old internationally.
According to politician Yoo Sang Bu, the change in law was done to help standardize aging and reduce confusion.
The revision is aimed at reducing unnecessary socio-economic costs because legal and social disputes, as well as confusion, persist due to the different ways of calculating age.
— Yoo Sang Bu
While many Koreans have become accustomed to the traditional age system, it will mean having to adapt to something new. Yet, for many, it might be a plus as they are now technically younger than before!
You can read more about the initial plans from earlier in the year below.