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South Koreans become younger under new law

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South Koreans have become a year or two younger as a new law aligns the nation’s two traditional age-counting methods with international standards.

The law scraps one traditional system that deemed South Koreans one year old at birth, counting time in the womb.

Another counted everyone as ageing by a year every first day of January instead of on their birthdays.

The switch to age-counting based on birth date took effect on Wednesday.

President Yoon Suk-yeol pushed strongly for the change when he ran for office last year. The traditional age-counting methods created “unnecessary social and economic costs”, he said.

For instance, disputes have arisen over insurance pay-outs and determining eligibility for government assistance programmes.

Previously, the most widely used calculation method in Korea was the centuries-old “Korean age” system, in which a person turns one at birth and gains a year on 1 January. This means a baby born on 31 December will be two years old the next day.

A separate “counting age” system, that was also traditionally used in the country, considers a person zero at birth and adds a year on 1 January.

This means that, for example, as of 28 June 2023, a person born on 29 June 2003 is 19 under the international system, 20 under the “counting age” system and 21 under the “Korean age” system.

Lawmakers voted to scrap the traditional counting methods last December.

Despite the move, many existing statutes that count a person’s age based on the “counting age” calendar year system will remain. For example, South Koreans can buy cigarettes and alcohol from the year – not the day – they turn 19.

Three in four South Koreans were also in favour of the standardisation, according to a poll by local firm Hankook Research in January 2022.

Some, like Jeongsuk Woo, hope the change will help break down Korea’s hierarchical culture.

“There is a subconscious layer of ageism in people’s behaviour. This is evident even in the complex language system based on age… I hope the abolition of ‘Korean age’ system and the adaptation of the international standard get rid of old relics of the past,” said the 28-year-old content creator.

Another resident Hyun Jeong Byun said: “I love it, because now I’m two years younger. My birthday is in December, so I always felt like this Korean age system is making me socially older than what I actually am.

“Now that Korea is following the global standard, I no longer have to explain my ‘Korean age’ when I go abroad.”

The 31-year-old doctor said South Korea’s medical sector has already been adopting the international age system.

The traditional age-counting methods were also used by other East Asian countries, but most have dropped it.

Japan adopted the international standard in 1950 while North Korea followed suit in the 1980s.

(BBC News)

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Stonehenge orange powder paint removed

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The orange powder paint sprayed onto Britain’s most famous prehistoric structure, Stonehenge, by environmental protesters on Wednesday has been removed, leaving “no visible damage,” according to the organization that manages the site.“Thankfully, there appears to be no visible damage but that’s in no way saying there hasn’t been harm, from the very act of having to clean the stones to the distress caused to those for whom Stonehenge holds a spiritual significance,” said English Heritage chief executive Nick Merriman in a statement to CNN Thursday.

He confirmed that the site is open to the public and that summer solstice celebrations, which are expected to attract huge crowds, will go ahead as normal.

A video posted on X by Just Stop Oil on Wednesday showed two of the group’s activists spraying the landmark using fire extinguishers.

“The Just Stop Oil protestors demanded the incoming government sign up to a legally binding treaty to phase out fossil fuels by 2030,” the group posted on X.

The action took place around 12 p.m. local time (7 a.m. ET) at the ancient site near Salisbury in the southwest of England, Wiltshire Police said in a statement.

The two activists “were arrested on suspicion of criminal damage, damaging an ancient monument and deterring a person from engaging in a lawful activity,” police said in a statement Thursday.

The pair have been released on bail pending further enquiries, police said.

The official Stonehenge X account described the incident as “extremely upsetting.”

“Orange powdered paint has been thrown at a number of the stones at Stonehenge. Obviously, this is extremely upsetting and our curators are investigating the extent of the damage,” the post said.

The protesters were a 21-year-old student from Oxford and a 73-year-old man from Birmingham, Just Stop Oil said in a press release.

In anticipation of people meeting at Stonehenge on Thursday to mark the Northern Hemisphere’s longest day of sunlight, English Heritage published “conditions of entry.”

“Stonehenge is a World Heritage Site, a Scheduled Ancient Monument and is seen by many as a sacred place. We ask that all those attending respect it and those celebrating around it,” the website said.

Responding to the incident on X, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wrote: “Just Stop Oil are a disgrace.”

On Thursday, two more activists from the group caused a scene at London’s Stansted Airport after they sprayed orange paint on two private jets on the runway where Taylor Swift’s private jet is suspected to have landed.

The pop star is in London on her Eras world tour and is set to play three shows in London this weekend.

Just Stop Oil posted videos on their social media channels showing two activists breaking into the airfield, cutting into the fence and spraying orange paint on the aircraft.

The same group made headlines last month when two protesters smashed the glass protecting the Magna Carta, a famous British manuscript from the 13th century, at the British Museum in London.

Climate activists have been staging increasingly high-profile protests, many of which have involved attacking high-value artworks including the Mona Lisa and Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers.”

(CNN)

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Putin arrives in North Korea

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Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in North Korea to a red carpet welcome on Tuesday night.

The two-day visit marks the first for a Russian leader in the last 24 years. Putin’s only previous visit to Pyongyang was in July 2000, two months after his presidential inauguration.

Mr Putin was met off his plane by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and – flanked by a military guard of honour – the pair talked animatedly for several minutes.

In Pyongyang, the streets had been decorated with Putin’s portraits and the flags of Russia and North Korea.

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Priyanka Gandhi to finally make electoral debut

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Priyanka Gandhi, sister of India’s main opposition Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, is set to contest her first election, ending decades of anticipation by her supporters.

Ms Gandhi is a descendant of the Nehru-Gandhi family, India’s most famous political dynasty, and her electoral debut will be closely watched.

The 52-year-old will contest the Wayanad seat in the southern Indian state of Kerala after her brother relinquishes it.

A win for Ms Gandhi would mean the presence of all three Gandhi family members in the Indian parliament.

Her mother Sonia Gandhi, former president of the Congress party, is an MP in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the parliament.

Her brother Mr Gandhi won the recent parliamentary elections from both Wayanad and Uttar Pradesh’s Rae Bareli seats.

Mr Gandhi, who has represented Wayanad as an MP since 2019, is giving it up as he can only retain one parliamentary seat under Indian law. On Monday, he thanked the people of Wayanad for their “love, affection and support”.

A date for the by-election is yet to be announced but Ms Gandhi says she is “not nervous at all”.

“I am very happy to be able to represent Wayanad and I will not let them feel his [Rahul Gandhi’s] absence,” she said on Monday. “I will work hard and I will try my best to make everyone happy and be a good representative.”

The by-election will mark the end of a decades-long wait by Congress supporters for Ms Gandhi’s involvement in electoral politics.

(BBC News)

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