New law will make all South Korean citizens younger by one or two years


Every South Korean citizen will officially become one or two years younger from next year after a new bill was passed to revise the antiquated system used to count a person’s age.

Under the current apparatus, newborns in the east Asian country are considered one year old, while most countries begin the tally a year on from the date a person is born.

From that point on, South Korean citizens turn a year older at the start of the New Year. So, for children born on 31 December, they will turn two the day after being delivered.

North Korea shifted to the global standard in the 1980s having previously used the same system still in use in Seoul.

President Yoon Suk Yeol proposed the switch to the standard global system during his bid for the presidency earlier this year, in the hope it would do away with confusion in processing administrative issues and medical services, and enforcing age-restricted rules.

“With the passage of the amendment today, all citizens of our country will become younger by one or two years starting next June,” Mr Yoon’s office said in a statement. The new system is expected to come into force in June next year.

The South Korean government also hopes it will fend off contractual issues for citizens who are forced to employ two different ages – one for home and one to meet global standards.

It is not known exactly when a decree for the current ageing system was set in motion.

The public has offered full-voiced support for the change, with some 80 per cent of people wanting to end the “Korean age” system, according to a government-backed survey.

“It would be difficult to find the origin of such practice,” said Lee Gi-jung, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Government Legislation.

“But South Korea is the only one that has been keeping it due to its rank-based society.”