South Korea officially adopted the “international age” system used in most countries in the world on Wednesday, 28 June 2023. It will be implemented in all judicial and administrative areas. In addition, it will end the confusion that often happens due to the former age system.
Previously, South Korea had three methods to determine their age: “international age”, “Korean age” and “calendar age”. The “international age” refers to the age system which starts at zero and gains a year every birthday. This has been used in most legal and official contexts since 1962.
The second system is the “Korean age”. The majority of South Koreans will refer to it when asked their age in informal settings. In this system, newborns are considered to be one year olds, and a year is added every New Year’s Day.
“Calendar age” is used by South Koreans in certain situations. It is the combination of international and Korean systems. It counts a baby’s age as zero on the day of birth and adds a year to their age every January 1.
In spite of the new standardization, the old age system will be used in some cases. It means eligibility is determined by the year they were born, rather than a person’s precise age or birth date .
Regardless of the month in which they were born, children typically start elementary school in March of the year after they turn 6 years old (in international age).
The purchase of age-restricted products like alcohol or tobacco will also be based on the year someone is born, regardless of month. People are permitted to purchase alcohol under this law beginning the year they turn 19 (in international age).
South Korea’s mandatory military service will also be based on the year someone is born, rather than their specific age or birth date.
source: cnn.com, smithsonianmag.com