South Korea was already using the classic international system, but only for official documents.
Getting younger is possible in South Korea. This Wednesday, South Koreans all lose a year, or even two, thanks to the abandonment of the ancestral system of calculating age in force in the country.
Until now, a newborn was automatically one year old at birth and aged a year every January 1st, and not on the date of his birthday as the international system dictates. Thus, under the Korean age, a child born on December 31 was automatically 2 years old the next day.
A system already abandoned in the rest of Asia
South Korea also used the international calculation method, but only for official documents, pension benefits or even criminal justice. Another source of confusion: for the right to drink alcohol or smoke, Seoul calculated the age of its nationals in a third way. The country was counting this time from zero at birth, but keeping the “anniversary” date of January 1.
South Korea was the last East Asian country to count in the past months in utero to determine the age of its nationals. China, Japan and even neighboring North Korea abandoned this system decades ago.
The origin of this calculation system is still mysterious. Some evoke a Buddhist influence, pushing to take into account the pregnancy to determine the age of a newborn. Others emphasize the absence of zero in the old Chinese numeration.
Age, an important social marker in South Korea
Lee Wan-kyu, minister in charge of government reform, started a press conference on Monday, explaining to Korean journalists how to calculate their age from now on.
It is necessary “to subtract your year of birth from the current year. If your birthday has passed, you get your age, and if your birthday has not passed, then subtract one to get your age”, explained the minister to the press.
While South Koreans will still be able to use their “old” age in their daily lives, the reform should eventually have a strong impact in a society where age is an important social marker.
The standardization of the method of calculation should also put an end to many disputes. During car accidents, disputes could break out concerning the compensation of victims, with insurance contracts linked to the age of the driver, without specifying a precise type of count. During the Covid-19 pandemic, similar disputes erupted at vaccination centers over who was actually eligible for vaccination.
Source: BFM TV