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World of the Bizarre

Everyone is two years older in South Korea

By T.K. Randall
April 15, 2019 · Comment icon 11 comments

South Koreans are two years older than their international counterparts. Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 normanack
A long-lived Korean tradition sees two years added to the age of newborn babies within their first 12 months.
The peculiar custom means that all babies automatically become one-year-old the very moment they are born, with another additional year of age being added when the calendar hits January 1st.

This means that everyone in South Korea is effectively two years older than they should be.

The bizarre nature of this system is perhaps best demonstrated by the case of Lee Dong Kil who received congratulatory messages following the birth of his 'one-year-old' son on December 31st.

At midnight - a mere two hours after the baby was born - he received a second round of messages to congratulate him on the fact that his newborn was now two years old.
"I thought, 'Ah, right. She's now two years old, though it's been only two hours since she was born,'" he said. "What the heck!"

It's a tradition that has received increasing amounts of criticism in recent years on the basis that it is a somewhat counter-intuitive concept in what is an otherwise modern, forward-thinking nation.

Earlier this year, politician Hwang Ju-hong tabled a new bill requiring the government to use a person's international age on official documents in place of their 'Korean age'.

Given how deeply ingrained the system is however, phasing it out may be easier said than done.

Source: ITV News | Comments (11)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #2 Posted by Vlad the Mighty 5 years ago
Is this something to do with time dilation and the theory of Relativity? 
Comment icon #3 Posted by freetoroam 5 years ago
Apparently this too, to add the extra year: But they can add on what they like, when ever they like, it still makes no difference to the real age. 
Comment icon #4 Posted by Desertrat56 5 years ago
@freetoroam, right, it doesn't matter.  I counted my age backwards until I hit 20 the same year my daughter hit 20 so I know about that.
Comment icon #5 Posted by freetoroam 5 years ago
I stopped deducting years off my age  when i realised i was heading to being the same age as my son. 
Comment icon #6 Posted by Desertrat56 5 years ago
I deducted years off to be the same age as my youngest dauther, we are both 37 this year.
Comment icon #7 Posted by freetoroam 5 years ago
You go girl. 
Comment icon #8 Posted by and then 5 years ago
You really should peruse the article.  It's a pretty interesting insight into their culture.  It occurred to me that if they had a tradition like this they might well frown on abortion and sure enough, it's illegal.  A court recently ruled that this law has to be amended by 2020 but for now, it's still against the law and both doctor and patient can face serious consequences except for rape, incest, and risks to their health.  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-47890065
Comment icon #9 Posted by AllPossible 5 years ago
Wonder how it works out in the court system there.
Comment icon #10 Posted by equshemonius 5 years ago
When I turned 50 I started to count backwards.......I am 31 now and not confused as to my age plus or minus 1.
Comment icon #11 Posted by briantk 5 years ago
Actually I was told because child mortality was high, any child who survive first 100 days deserved to be earn one year.


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