A New Age Calculation System – Koreans are thrilled to be 2 Years Younger

A new age calculation?! As of June 28, 2023, Koreans got 2 years younger! How did this happen? Well, to understand, you must first know about the Korean age. If you have Korean friends, you might have heard your friend say “My Korean age is…”. Korean age, also known as “counting age,” is a traditional age calculation method used in South Korea. It differs from the internationally common age calculation method and has its unique characteristics.

In Korean age, a person is considered one year old at birth. Then, as the new year begins, everyone’s age increases by one year, regardless of their actual birthdate. This means that on January 1st, everyone in Korea becomes a year older, regardless of their individual birthdates throughout the year. For example, if a child is born on December 31st, they would be considered two years old on January 1st of the following year, according to Korean age. In contrast, using the internationally recognized age calculation method, the child would only be a few days old.

Korean age is deeply rooted in Korean culture and is often used in daily life, interactions, and social contexts within the country. It is commonly used when people introduce themselves or interact with others, especially among peers or in informal settings. However, when it comes to legal matters, official documents, or international contexts, the internationally recognized age calculation method, known as “western age” or “birthdate age,” is used. This method calculates a person’s age by subtracting their birth year from the current year. It aligns with the age calculation system used in many other countries around the world.

So due to the difference in social method of counting age and administrative method of counting age, there had been many confusion and discomfort. Many Koreans have asked the government for a means of settling the inconvenience, and finally the government responded.

The South Korean government introduced the Mannai Unification Act, which came into effect on June 28, 2023. This act aims to unify the different age calculation methods previously used in the country. With the implementation of this act, South Koreans will now transition to a new age calculation system known as “Mannai.”

Before the Mannai Unification Act, South Korea employed three different age calculation methods: counting age, year age, and man age. Counting age, the method I explained above was the most commonly used among Koreans socially. Year age is calculated by subtracting the year of birth from the current year. Lastly, mannai is an age calculation method where individuals gain one year in age only after their birthday.

The Mannai Unification Act aims to standardize age calculations and promote clarity. Under this act, unless specified otherwise in individual laws, age in administrative and civil matters will be counted using the man age method. This means that age references in laws, contracts, medication guides, and company regulations should be understood as man age unless explicitly stated otherwise.

While the Mannai Unification Act brings a significant change to age calculations, it does not apply universally. There are exceptions to consider. For instance, school age is still determined differently. Students enter elementary school on March 1 of the year following the year in which they turn 6 years old. Additionally, the age limit for purchasing alcohol and cigarettes remains unchanged, allowing individuals born in 2004 to make such purchases regardless of their birthday. Military service age is also calculated based on the current year minus the year of birth. The Military Service Act specifies the age for mandatory military service registration (18 years old) and the age for examination (19 years old) as ‘from January 1 of the year in which the age comes.’

The introduction of the Mannai Unification Act aims to address the confusion and disputes that arose due to the previous mixed use of age standards. By implementing a standardized age calculation system, the act reduces social costs associated with discrepancies and simplifies legal and administrative processes. It provides a clearer understanding of individuals’ ages in various contexts, bringing consistency and coherence to age-related matters. The Mannai Unification Act represents an important step towards streamlining age-related matters in South Korea’s legal and administrative landscape.

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