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Your Favorite K-pop Idol Might Be One Year Younger

What separates Koreans from the rest of the world is that Koreans are automatically one year old the moment they are born. Once January 1st rolls around, Koreans become a year older regardless of their birthdays. Koreans count age based on years not days. For example, a child born in December is already age two by January. This century-old tradition, which reportedly started in China, is only practiced in South Korea today. For foreigners living in Korea or Koreans going abroad, giving their ages is quite a confusing experience.

Korea's new president, Yoon Seok-Youl, stated as one of his first agendas is to abolish the Korean age system and stick to the international age system that most of the world is familiar with. This is to prevent confusion and "to bring South Korea in line with the rest of the world." (Forbes)

South Korean President Yoon Seok-Youl. Photo via Korea Times.

Koreans interviewed by the popular YouTube channel, Asian Boss, have differing opinions on this topic based on their personal situations.

There are many legal issues surrounding this since all Koreans will have to change their birthdays on official documents. Representative Lee Yong Ho from the People's Power Party explains why President Yoon wants Koreans to switch to the international system.

"If we stick to the international age system, we will no longer see the social and economic costs associated with all the confusion and inconvenience arising from the age gap."

- Representative Lee Yong Ho

If the international age policy is mandated, male K-pop idols will be considered two years younger and their mandatory military service will be delayed by two years. Korean males are able to delay their service at age of 28 (Korean age), but with the international age policy in place, they are considered to be 26.

SHINee's Taemin in military uniform. Photo via Soompi.

Representative Lee Yong Ho stated that the committee will take careful steps to make the transition seamless and easier for Koreans.

"There is a reason for the kind of compromise in such laws and we will consult with experts before we think about changing them too. There would be much less confusion if we could have the same idea of what it means to be how old we actually are."

- Representative Lee Yong Ho

The switch to the international age will happen sometime in 2023. We're looking forward to seeing if this really makes a big difference in Korean life.

Let us know your thoughts about this situation! Are you excited that your favorite K-pop idol might be two years younger?


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