South Korea Adopts a New Age Calculation System: A Shift in Cultural Norms

With the abandonment of the conventional approach and the adoption of a new technique of calculating one’s age, South Korea recently underwent a substantial transformation in its age calculation methodology. Cultural conventions and public perspectives have changed as a result of this shift. This article examines the ramifications of this shift, how it will affect several facets of South Korean life, and the motivations behind its adoption.

An Age-Old Concept:

Understanding the idea of Korean age is essential to navigating the country’s social dynamics because age has a distinct meaning in South Korea. The Korean age system is different from the international age system in that it takes both the year of birth and the calendar year into account.

 In Korea, regardless of when they were actually born, people are reckoned to be one year old at birth and gain another year on January 1st. For foreigners, this unusual approach frequently causes confusion, although it is embedded in Korean culture.

In many facets of life, such as social connections, education, and even legal issues, the Korean age system has important ramifications. It plays a crucial role in establishing hierarchical relationships, as age is a key determinant of respect and authority.

According to their Korean age, kids are divided into groups in schools, which creates unique dynamics and expectations in the learning environment. The Korean age is also a deciding element in legal affairs like voting and drinking age, emphasising its significance in daily life.

Although the traditional method of determining age is ingrained in Korean culture, it is crucial for non-Koreans to be aware of the variations and approach the subject with respect and curiosity.

The Shift in Age Calculation Norms:

The “nominal age,” or conventional method of determining age, has been ingrained in South Korean culture for many years. However, it has drawn criticism for being inaccurate and having the potential to be confusing, especially in the globalised world of today.

 The new approach, which is based on the Gregorian calendar, intends to allay these worries by bringing South Korea into compliance with the global age calculation norm. The new policy will bring the country into compliance with many other countries by considering someone to be one year old on the day of their actual birth.

South Korea Adopts a New Age Calculation System: A Shift in Cultural Norms

Image Source: The Japan Times

Impact on Society and Daily Life:

The adoption of the new age calculation system has wide-ranging implications for South Korean society. One notable effect is the potential alteration of social dynamics, such as hierarchical relationships and societal expectations.

In a society deeply influenced by age-based seniority, the shift may challenge existing power structures and reshape the dynamics within families, workplaces, and schools. Moreover, it may influence the perceptions and treatment of individuals in various domains, including employment, education, and marriage.


South Korea’s decision to abandon its traditional age calculation system represents a significant cultural shift. By embracing a new method that aligns with international standards, the country aims to enhance accuracy, clarity, and harmonization with global practices.

While this change may disrupt established norms and challenge societal expectations, it also offers an opportunity for South Korea to adapt to a rapidly changing world and foster a more inclusive and globally connected society.

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