[EDITORIALS]Standardize the legal ageThe Justice Ministry finalized its revisions to the civil code to lower the legal age to 19 from 20.
The revisions are the largest amendments to the code since it was established in 1958. It can be said that the revisions reflected a half-century’s social and economic changes in the nation and some new international standards.
With the revisions that specify that the adult age is 19, those who have just debuted in society after graduating from high schools or who are college freshmen will be regarded as adults.
So far, there has been a gap between the law and reality; those people were regarded socially as adults, but not legally.
Thanks to the revisions, however, 19-year-olds will be allowed to marry without their parents’ consent, enter into contracts and sign up for credit cards.
But under the current Korean legal system, the standards for the legal age differ from law to law.
The election laws say that only persons 20 or older are allowed to vote. The Juvenile Protection Act and the Food Sanitation Act specify that only those who are 19 or older can visit bars or drink liquor. Moreover, laws related to movies and performances say that 18 is old enough to view adult content.
How can we expect that such different laws can be enforced effectively and legitimately?
The civil code serves as a basis for other laws. We thus believe it is desirable for other laws to follow the standard set in the civil code.
The age requirement in the election laws, which has been a matter of dispute in every election season, should follow the civil code’s standard.
According to a study, if those who are 19 could vote, then around 650,000 new voters will be created. We hope that the ruling and opposition parties make haste and revise the election laws so that the age-requirement change can take place along with the civil code revisions.
The revisions mean that the responsibility of the young people will be increased. They will have to act as independent decision-makers and become responsible members of society.
For this, proper education will have to be given in our schools and our homes.