The Korea Herald


Legal adult age reduced to 19

By Robert Lee

Published : Jan. 12, 2011 - 18:55

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The age of legal adulthood is to be lowered from the current 20 to 19 under a revised civil law bill, officials said Wednesday.

The bill, which was passed by the parliamentary Legislation and Judiciary Committee last month, is expected to be approved at a plenary session of the National Assembly next month, they said.

When the revision takes effect in July 2013, young adults the age of 19 will be able to undertake contracts and other legally binding acts without the consent of a legal guardian.

According to legislation officials, the age was lowered in response to a global trend of young adults maturing both mentally and physically quicker than past generations.

The legal voting age in South Korea is already 19.

Officials said they considered the fact that adolescents of that age are able to recognize the social and economic realities of society.

Rep. Hwang Young-cheul of the ruling Grand National Party and 16 other lawmakers have tried to pass six similar bills through the parliament since 2008, with the latest bill being made up of the past six.

The bill also includes a revision of the current disability system. The existing system regarding disabilities cannot consider individual cases or professional consultation, and its terminology is considered derogatory, officials said.

People with disabilities will go from legislation that limited their abilities to a guardianship system.

For those that cannot lead a normal life, the family court will now decide the limitations on disabled people and their guardians.

Guardians will no longer be able to prevent those with disabilities from purchasing daily necessities and partaking in other activities required in their daily lives.

Those requiring legal guardians will also be allowed to have at least two.

By Robert Lee (