Posted by Sophie-Ha 9 days ago

"Am I 19 or 20?" Should the Korean standard way of counting age be changed?


Everyone ages, and this is an inevitable fact of life. However, how would you feel if one year is added to your age regardless of whether your birthday passed or not? 

When you're young, it might be a plus to be older than your actual age, but the older you get, you don't want to have an additional two years to your age. However, in Korea, it is the norm to count your age in this way.

In Korea, each person has three different ages they go by - your actual age according to your birthday, the age according to the birth year, and the Korean age that is used by everyone in Korean society.

For example, a person who is born in December 1992 would be 31 this year since a new year has started. So if someone asks "How old are you?" to a person born in December, that person would still say "31" even though their birthday has not passed. This is the Korean age.

The age by birth year is the age you get when you subtract the current year from your birth year. Then the person who is born in December 1992 would be '30' according to the birth year. However, for those born in December 1992, they would still be '29' since their birthday did not pass.

This is one of the issues that recently arose as the KCDC announced that anyone over the age of 12 can get vaccinated. In December 2021, the government announced the standard for youth vaccinations and the standard for the quarantine pass (vaccination pass). According to the announcement, adolescents aged 12 and over must receive the COVID vaccination to be able to enter facilities that require quarantine passes starting from March. 

However, this quarantine pass will not apply to anyone born in 2010 who is 12 in age by birth year. There will be no room for confusion in countries where there is only one standard of age - the age according to a person's birthday, but this has caused confusion in South Korea.

In fact, South Korea is the only country that has this unique counting system as many other Asian countries have unified the age counting to count according to people's birthdays.

So, should the standard of counting age be changed in South Korea? 

In a recent poll surrounding the settlement of age counting, more people are agreeing to change the standard of counting age. In 2016, when Realmeter - a public opinion polling company - conducted a survey of 529 people aged 19 and over nationwide, 46.8% of citizens voted 'Keep the Korean age,' and 44% voted 'unifying the standard of counting age.'  However, in 2021, 83.4% voted they would like the standard of counting age to be unified and count according to people's birthdays.

So, now the question is, when will South Korea change the standard of counting age?

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k_kid12,680 pts 9 days ago 0
9 days ago

As a Korean, I think this system is outdated and should be replaced by the universal age system that everyone else uses. Makes no sense to keep using a system that no one uses just to keep tradition.



HSK5,122 pts 9 days ago 0
9 days ago

It's up to the Koreans to decide, but I hope they consider changing it as it's hella confusing.



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