Listen to Today's Edition
South Korea’s incoming president is proposing to abolish a centuries-old method of counting a person’s age, a move that could have a significant impact on the country’s society and culture, the BBC reported.
There are three ways to count the age of an individual in South Korea, including the standardized international system that the country has been using since 1962.
South Korea also uses another official method in which babies born at the age of zero automatically gain a year every Jan. 1 – meaning that a baby born in December 2020 would be two years old by January 2022. This system is primarily used to define the legal age for areas of the law that affect a significant percentage of the population, such as military service.
But there is also the “Korean age” method, which is used frequently used by everyone in society: Every person is automatically a year old at birth and becomes a year older on New Year’s Day regardless of their birth date.
Scholars say that age is important in South Korean society and determines how to “address (a) person and the honorific or title… required.” But others noted that the peculiar counting system has caused legal conundrums, such as difficulties in setting an age bracket to receive the coronavirus vaccine.
The intricate system originated in China and other parts of Asia, even though most of those nations have dropped it.
President-elect Yoon Suk Yeol plans to revamp the system, saying that it has caused a lot of confusion and resulted in social and economic costs for the country.
Analysts pointed out that other attempts to alter the age-counting method have failed, while others questioned what this would mean for South Korean culture and society.
Even so, they suggested that if the international counting standard is adopted, South Koreans would still continue to use the “Korean age” method.