The Koreans have discovered a way to make themselves younger. Literally
It’s not through great skincare, but rather, scrapping the traditional way of counting age.
No More Tradition
Soon, the international standard will replace South Korea’s traditional system of age calculation.
The law, passed on Thursday (8 Dec), will mean that Koreans will see a shift in their age, making them one or two years younger on official papers. The new mandate will come into effect in June 2023,
There will be a separate system for conscription purposes or the legal drinking and smoking age.
According to Mr Yoo Sang-bum of the ruling People Power Party, the change is intended to reduce needless socio-economic expenditures because of legal and social conflict and other problem that results from the confusing methods of measuring age.
Well, in Korea, it might not have been that confusing, but can you imagine having to explain to someone unaware of Korean culture and born in the same year as you, that you are actually two years older than them?
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Explaining the Tradition
In South Korea, Koreans are considered to be one year old at birth. How is this possible?
Well, the first year of their existence begins while they were still inside the womb, despite it only being nine months. Then, a person’s Korean age is automatically increased by one on January 1st when the year changes.
So, when they celebrate their birthday that following year, they are celebrating being two years old, despite turning two on 1st Jan, regardless of your birthday.
For example, you are born on 9 August this year. Your age will automatically be one year old. When the clock strikes 12 on 1 Jan 2023, you’re automatically two years old, even though biologically, you’re yet to turn one.
So when you are celebrating your birthday on 9 Aug 2023, you’re celebrating being two years old.
It’s okay, I was confused trying to understand this too.
Obviously, this highly contrasts the standard across the world, where we start counting only from the day of our birth.
The concept of age also highly influences how one interacts with their social circle. Sharing one’s age or year of birth openly goes beyond simple politeness.
It’s a social contract that defines the hierarchy and pecking order of their society, because even a one-year difference may heavily influence how individuals interact with one another, including using the appropriate honorifics and behavior while eating and drinking together.
So now, maybe your idols are actually closer to your age than you think. Or that they’re further away than before.
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