The Korean Government in January of this year wants to simplify the age calculation system.
If the government passes the proposed legislation, age will be calculated based on a person’s birthday.
Previously there were several methods for calculating age. People were considered one year old on the day that they were born. Also, under the old system, everyone got one year older on January 1st of each year. In the Korean system, most people were two years older than their age in Western countries.
Under the proposed changes, Freshman university students who are younger than 19 must wait until their birthday to drink alcohol and buy cigarettes legally. Currently, if you are eighteen years old on December 31, you can legally drink alcohol on January 1st. Similarly, your birthday will decide when you are an adult in terms of Korean criminal law.
The new law will say that on the day that a person is born, they will be considered zero age. Combined with the elimination of the January 1st rule, age will be two years less than the current system if the law is passed. Age for school entrance would then change. Currently in Korea, children must be eight years old to begin elementary school. In western age, the same child is six years old. Under the proposed law, a child who is six years old before January 1st of any year can start elementary school.
For male university students, the age to begin military service will mostly likely be reduced by two years because everyone will be two years younger. Exact entrance times might also be adjusted if the legislation becomes law.
Korea was not the only country to calculate age in a variety of ways. Seowon news talked to some foreign students for information on their countries.
-Chen Lin(China): We also calculate age as same as Korea. Because I am born in 1999, now I am 21 years old.
-Asma(Somalia): Our previous generations like my grandmother calculated 10 months like 1 year, but now we calculate 12 months as 1 year.
Then, I asked some Seowon University students what they think about this proposal. Many students answered that they agree with that. English Education major Lee Seong-ho said, “Korea is the only country in the world counting its age as a ‘Korean age.’ However, we use the age in full in our legal provisions and other public documents, but it is questionable whether we should use Korean age.” He added, “Also, I am 22 years old in Malaysia, but I am 24 years old in Korea. They don’t know what I want to be a little younger.” Jang Won-gil said, “There are no major problems with everyday life, but two ages being used together in one country can bring more confusion when living in a foreign country or writing important documents. To reduce this confusion, it is more convenient to use international age.” Gwon O-seong from Aerial Service major also said that he thought it is better to follow the counting in full because of confusion.
However, English Education major Jo Byeong-guk said, “I like the existing way. If it suddenly changed, there would be more confusion in Korea.”