After South Korea’s traditional age counting methods were combined with international methods, their ages decreased by a year or two.
According to one of its traditions, South Koreans were counted as one year old at birth, taking into account the time spend in womb. According to another tradition, everyone become one year older on 1st of January every year instead of on their birthdays. The “Korean age” system which dates back to centuries would turn a child born on 31 December as two years old the next day, taking into account its womb time and next day being January 1.
Another way age was counted traditionally was counting a child of no age when he/she is born but counting the child as one year older on January 1. This implies, a person would have a certain age according to this “counting method”, a different age under “Korean age” system and another age as per international system.
On Wednesday this old tradition changed to counting people a year older on their birthdays.
President Yoon Suk Yeol said, “unnecessary social and economic costs” occur due to the old age-counting methods. He supported scrapping of these traditional methods in 2022 when he campaigned for the president post.
Problems arising from these methods include conflict over insurance pay-outs and ascertaining eligibility for government assistance programmes.
South Korean legislators voted to remove the traditional methods on December 2022. However, even after getting rid of these old age counting systems, “counting age” system will still remain. Being eligible in some cases would be determined according to this system.
A poll was conducted by Hankook Research in January 2022 according to which three in four South Koreans wanted the age standardization.
Many East Asian countries had used their traditional methods but gave up long ago. Japan in 1950 started age system according to the international system and from 1980s North Korea started the same.