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What is legal age in Korea?


The legal age in Korea is an important topic that affects various aspects of life in the country. It determines when a person can vote, drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, and more. In this article, we will explore what the legal age in Korea is and why it is important.

History of Legal Age in Korea

The legal age in Korea has changed throughout history. Until 1948, the legal age for marriage was 15 for boys and 13 for girls. In 1953, the legal age for marriage was raised to 16 for boys and 14 for girls. Then, in 1975, the legal age for marriage was raised again to 18 for both boys and girls.

Legal Age for Voting

In Korea, the legal voting age is 19. This means that citizens who are 19 years old or older are eligible to vote in national elections. However, there are some exceptions for local elections.

Legal Age for Drinking Alcohol

The legal drinking age in Korea is 19. This means that people who are under the age of 19 are not allowed to purchase or consume alcohol. Those who violate this law may face fines or even imprisonment.

Legal Age for Smoking Cigarettes

The legal age for smoking cigarettes in Korea is also 19. This means that people under the age of 19 are not allowed to purchase or smoke cigarettes.

Legal Age for Driving

In Korea, you must be at least 18 years old to get a driver’s license. However, there are restrictions for new drivers, such as a curfew and limits on how many passengers they can have.

Legal Age for Military Service

All Korean men between the ages of 18 and 28 are required to complete military service. Women are not required to serve in the military, but they can if they choose to.

Legal Age for Employment

The legal age for employment in Korea is 15. However, there are restrictions on the types of jobs that minors can do and the number of hours they can work.

Legal Age for Education

Education is compulsory in Korea from the age of 6 to 15. After that, students can choose to continue their education or enter the workforce.

Legal Age for Gambling

Gambling is illegal in Korea, with a few exceptions such as horse racing and bicycle racing. The legal age for gambling is 18.

Legal Age for Sexual Consent

The legal age for sexual consent in Korea is 20. This means that having sexual relations with someone under the age of 20 is considered statutory rape.


The legal age in Korea plays an important role in various aspects of life, from voting to drinking alcohol. Understanding the legal age requirements is crucial for anyone living or traveling in Korea. It is important to follow these laws to avoid fines or imprisonment and to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience in the country.

How old is a minor in Korea?

In Korea, someone is considered an adult once they reach the age of 19, according to international age standards. This means that they have reached the age of majority in the country.

Can I drink in Korea if I’m 18?

In Korea, the legal age for drinking alcohol is 19 years old. While drinking in public is allowed, being disruptive while under the influence of alcohol can lead to expensive fines and a trip to the police station.

What is the legal age in Korea to date?

Individuals who are 18 or older (males) or 16 or older (females) can get married with the approval of their parents or guardians. Otherwise, the legal age for marriage in South Korea is 20 in Korean age (which is equivalent to 19 in international age). Additionally, the age of consent for sexual activity is also 20 years old.

Can an 18 date a 16 in Korea?

In South Korea, individuals under the age of 19 are not legally permitted to give consent for sexual activities. Engaging in such activities may result in charges of statutory rape or equivalent local law.

How old is a 17 year old in Korean age?

This updated guide from 2023 explains how to say your age in Korean based on your birth year. For example, if you were born in 2008, you would be considered 16 years old and referred to as “열여섯 살” in Korean. The guide provides age translations for every year from 2005 to present.

Is the age of consent in Japan really 13?

In Japan, it is illegal for anyone to have sexual intercourse with a female partner who is under 13 years old, as stated by Article 177 of the Penal Code. What age do you believe is appropriate for the legal age of consent?

Enforcement of Legal Age in Korea

The Korean government takes the enforcement of legal age seriously. There are strict penalties for those who violate the laws, including fines and imprisonment. In addition, businesses that sell alcohol, cigarettes, or other age-restricted products to minors can face heavy fines or even have their licenses revoked. To enforce the legal age requirements, businesses may require customers to show identification to prove their age.

Cultural Attitudes towards Legal Age in Korea

In Korean culture, age is considered an important factor in social relationships. As a result, there is often a strong emphasis on respecting the legal age requirements. It is seen as inappropriate for older individuals to engage in activities with those who are underage. Similarly, younger individuals may feel pressure to follow the rules and avoid activities that are only legal for those who are older.

Changes to Legal Age in Korea

There have been discussions about changing the legal age requirements in Korea in recent years. For example, there have been proposals to lower the voting age from 19 to 18 or even 16. Additionally, some have called for changes to the military service requirements, such as extending the age range or allowing women to serve. Any changes to the legal age requirements would require significant debate and political consensus.

International Comparison of Legal Age

The legal age requirements in Korea are similar to many other countries around the world. For example, the drinking age in the United States is also 21 while it is 18 in some European countries. The voting age is generally around 18-21 in most countries. However, there are some notable differences, such as Japan where the drinking age is 20 but the smoking age is 20 for purchasing and 18 for smoking.

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