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What age is legal in South Korea?


The legal age in South Korea is a topic of interest for many people, especially those who are planning to visit or move to the country. It is important to know the legal age for various activities such as drinking, smoking, driving, voting, and marriage. This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide on what age is legal in South Korea.

The Legal Age for Drinking

In South Korea, the legal age for drinking alcohol is 19 years old. However, minors under 19 years old are allowed to consume alcohol under certain circumstances such as when accompanied by parents or for medical purposes. Selling or providing alcohol to minors under 19 years old is illegal and can result in fines and imprisonment.

The Legal Age for Smoking

The legal age for smoking cigarettes in South Korea is also 19 years old. Minors under 19 years old are prohibited from purchasing or smoking cigarettes. Smoking in public places such as restaurants, cafes, and bars is also banned in South Korea.

The Legal Age for Driving

The legal age for driving in South Korea is 18 years old. To obtain a driver’s license, one must pass a written test, a driving test, and a vision test. A probationary period of 1 year applies to new drivers under the age of 21.

The Legal Age for Voting

The legal age for voting in South Korea is 19 years old. Koreans who have reached the age of 19 can cast their vote in national and local elections. Overseas Koreans who have registered to vote can also participate in elections.

The Legal Age for Marriage

The legal age for marriage in South Korea is 20 years old. However, with parental consent, men can get married at 18 years old and women at 16 years old. Same-sex marriage is not legally recognized in South Korea.

The Legal Age for Military Service

All able-bodied men in South Korea are required to complete mandatory military service for about 18-21 months. The age range for military service is from 18 to 35 years old. Women are not required to serve in the military but can volunteer.

The Legal Age for Sexual Consent

The legal age for sexual consent in South Korea is 16 years old. Sexual acts with minors under 16 years old are considered statutory rape and can result in severe penalties including imprisonment.

The Legal Age for Gambling

Gambling is illegal in South Korea except for a few authorized locations such as foreigner-only casinos. The legal age for gambling in these authorized locations is 18 years old.

The Legal Age for Employment

The legal age for employment in South Korea is 18 years old. However, some jobs such as bartending and serving alcohol require workers to be at least 19 years old. Minors under 18 years old are prohibited from working late-night shifts and hazardous jobs.

The Legal Age for Medical Consent

In South Korea, the legal age for medical consent is 19 years old. Patients who are under 19 years old must obtain consent from their parents or legal guardians before receiving medical treatment.


Knowing the legal age in South Korea is essential for anyone who intends to live or travel to the country. The legal age varies depending on the activity, and it is important to abide by these laws to avoid any legal issues. It is also important to note that laws and regulations can change, so it is advisable to check with the relevant authorities before engaging in any activity that has age restrictions.

Is 18 a minor in Korea?

The definition of “child” refers to an individual who is younger than 18 years old.

Is 16 and 18 legal in Korea?

Individuals under the age of 19 in South Korea are not legally allowed to give consent for any sexual activity. Engaging in such activities with minors may result in charges of statutory rape or similar local laws.

Is 17 a minor in Korea?

The age of majority in Korea is 19 years old, meaning individuals who have reached this age are legally considered adults.

Can I drink in Korea if I’m 18?

The legal age to consume alcohol in Korea is 19 years old. While drinking in public is allowed, behaving badly while under the influence can lead to significant fines and even a visit to the police station.

What is Japan’s legal age?

In Japan, the legal age is 20, but since April 2022, the voting age has been lowered to 18. This change has allowed younger adults to access new rights and responsibilities related to living within society.

Is the age of consent in Japan really 13?

Japan currently has the lowest age of consent among developed countries, allowing 13-year-old children to consent to sexual activity without it being considered statutory rape.

The Legal Age for Education

The legal age for compulsory education in South Korea is 6 years old. All children between the ages of 6 and 15 must attend school, whether it is public or private, and failure to do so can result in fines or even imprisonment for parents. After completing compulsory education, students can choose to continue their studies in high school, vocational school, or university.

The Legal Age for Consent to Work Overtime

The legal age for consenting to work overtime in South Korea is 18 years old. Minors under the age of 18 are prohibited from working overtime as it may have negative effects on their physical and mental health. Employers who violate this law can face fines and other penalties.

The Legal Age for Adoption

The legal age for adoption in South Korea is 20 years old. Adoptive parents must be at least 20 years older than the child they wish to adopt. Adoption laws in South Korea have been revised in recent years to make the process more transparent and streamlined, but there are still many regulations that need to be followed.

The Legal Age for Social Media Use

There is no specific legal age for social media use in South Korea, but most social media platforms require users to be at least 13 years old. Parents are advised to monitor their children’s social media activity and educate them on online safety and privacy issues.

The Legal Age for Firearms Ownership

Firearms ownership is heavily regulated in South Korea, and only licensed individuals are allowed to possess guns. The legal age for obtaining a firearms license is 20 years old, and applicants must pass background checks, mental health evaluations, and firearms safety training courses. Illegally possessing firearms can result in severe penalties including imprisonment.

The Legal Age for Abortion

Abortion was illegal in South Korea until recently when the country’s Constitutional Court ruled that the existing law banning abortion was unconstitutional. Women can now legally receive abortions within the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, regardless of their age. However, late-term abortions can only be performed in cases of medical necessity or severe fetal abnormalities.

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