Korean scrapping unique ‘Korean age’ counting system

In the so-called Korean age system, a person turns 1 on the day they are born and then add another year on the first day of the new year

Photo credit: 100 days celebration 

09 December 2022 | James Porteous | Clipper Media News

Illustration: This Yonhap News Agency illustration shows terms related to the social discussion on introducing a unified age system. (Yonhap)

Korean National Assembly passes bills on scrapping ‘Korean age’

08 December 2022 | Yonhap News Agency

SEOUL, Dec. 8 (Yonhap) — The National Assembly on Thursday passed a set of bills requiring the use of international age counting system in all judicial and administrative areas, rather than the unique “Korean age” counting system.

Under the revisions to the Civil Act and the General Act on Public Administration that are slated to go into effect in June, South Korea’s multiple age systems are to be unified to the internationally recognized system in which age is based on birth date.

In South Korea, three age systems are currently in use. The most commonly used system is the so-called Korean age, under which a person turns 1 on the day they are born and adds a year on the first day of the new year.

The second system is the internationally recognized system, whereby a person’s age is determined according to their birth date, while the third system adds a year to a person’s age on the first day of the new year.

Critics have raised concerns that the different systems may cause confusion in providing welfare, medical and administrative services and incur unnecessary social costs.

President Yoon Suk-yeol pledged to unify the age system as one of his campaign promises.

Also among the bills passed in Thursday’s plenary session were a set of revisions aimed at preventing major disruptions at mobile messenger services like KakaoTalk, the country’s biggest messaging app.

In October, a fire broke out at a suburban Seoul building that houses Kakao Corp.’s data center, prompting a power outage that disrupted the company’s namesake messaging service, as well as ride-hailing and public services tied to the app that more than 40 million use.

Under the revision bills, platform operators like Kakao are mandated to draw up disaster management plans and report to the science minister on their efforts to provide stable service and swiftly respond to disruptions.


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