Wednesday 28 June 2023

Working out the age of South Korean kids isn't easy and the same goes for cats!

If you think that you can simply multiply the age of your cat by 7 to obtain the equivalent age in human terms, you are wrong. It is more complicated than that. The relationship between cat and human age is not linear to put it more scientifically. Anyway, this short article is not about cat age but about working out the age of South Korean children.

Working out the age of South Korean kids isn't easy and the same goes for cats!
Working out the age of South Korean kids isn't easy and the same goes for cats! Image: MikeB

Up until now South Koreans had a very peculiar (by Western standards) system which caused confusion. It goes like this. I will quote The Times verbatim just to make sure that I get it right!
By tradition, a Korean baby, however, is one year old at the moment of birth and gains another year every New Year's Day. [Using this system] in an extreme case, a baby born in the last minute of December 31 would turn two at the stroke of midnight, in the second minute of their life. The following New Year's Day they would be three, despite being only 366 days old.
The country has introduced a new system under a "legal revision". It comes into force today. South Korea is adopting the "international age". This means that children are born at age zero and you add a year on every birthday! That sounds logical. That sounds normal; the way it should be by Western and international standards.

Apparently, the president promised to make the change in order to "relieve social and administrative confusion and conflict". The country's minister for government legislation said:
"The unified age-counting system will greatly reduce social costs that were incurred due to using multiple age-counting systems."
Yes, it's being simplified. The old system, the traditional system, is based upon a belief that the months in the womb are also part of life. And The Times tells me that in South Korea forms of address between people change when speaking to an older person. This tradition is very strong apparently and older people are addressed more politely.

Now, some South Koreans are confused about how they should address someone who is a few months older because under the new (for South Korea) international system "they will be older in given age for part of the year and then become the same age after the younger person catches up on their birthday". It certainly is confusing in South Korea on something which shouldn't be confusing.

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