What is the Age of Consent in Korea?  | Expat Guide Korea (2023)

Cover Photo Credits: ageofconsent.net

In every country, some rules and regulations guide the activities of her citizens or people who live in that country. Age of consent happens to be one of such laws. Age of consent is the age at which a person is believed as being legally competent to make the decision of consenting to sexual activities. Before one can decide to involve in sexual acts with another, the person must be up to the age of consent, else such person cannot make such decisions. Age of consent has several laws that apply to it and it is expected that every citizen and resident of a place should abide by such laws. Every country has its own age of consent which varies from one country to another.

It is very important that as a foreigner living in Korea especially, you must be aware of the age of consent that guides the country so as to avoid a lot of issues that can come up when such a law is violated. In our society today the high rate at which youths involve in sexual activity is alarming, hence the more reason subjects like age of consent should be made known to younger ones, and educate them on the need for them to understand age of consent and how it works.

Once one is not of the age of consent, their consent or opinion to be sexually active with their significant other should not be listened to, because they are not of such age to give such consent, this means that having sexual intercourse with someone who is below the age of consent of the person’s country as stipulated in the age of consent rules can be interpreted as violation, sexual harassment, rape and even child abuse. Hence it is very important that one is fully aware of the age of consent of both your country and that of your partner.

What is the Age of Consent in Korea?

What is the Age of Consent in Korea? | Expat Guide Korea (1)

South Korea has an age of consent that applies to them just like every other country. South Korea initially had 13 years as the age of consent, the country has recently raised their age of consent to 16 years, then to 20 years.

The rise in the age of consent by South Korea was done as a result of the need to “strengthen the protection of minors, following accusations the existing law on sex crimes was too weak”, hence the country deliberated and decided to increase the age of consent to 20. This happens to be one of the highest across the globe except for countries that have 21 years as their age of consent, Korea can be regarded as one of the countries with a high age of consent.

This means that in South Korea, individuals who are 19 below are not expected to consent to any sexual acts, and even if they consent, they are regarded as minors and such consent should not be regarded. Initially in the country, people within the ages of 13 and above could legally consent to sexual activities, and this led to a lot of controversies, and the rate of offenders getting away with abuses because of the low benchmark, hence the need for the adjustment in the age of consent in South Korea. This means that in South Korea, statutory rape becomes the case when an adult has consensual sexual acts with a minor below age 20.

Then cases like having sexual intercourse with a minor without consent can be interpreted as rape, child abuse, or assault. It is also worthy to be noted that Korea does not give exemptions for two minors involved in sexual acts, the ‘Romeo and Juliet Law’ does not apply in the country, this gives the possibility that minors below 20 can be prosecuted for statutory rape if they both willingly consent to have sexual intercourse with each other, although such cases are not common. South Korea is one of the countries that has zero tolerance to cases concerning rape, statutory rape, abuse and the likes of it. Statutory rape is a situation in which an adult has sex with a minor- (one who is not yet of the age of consent), with the minor’s permission. As said, anyone who is not of the age of consent does not yet have a say as whether he or she wishes to have sexual intercourse with anyone, whether another minor or an adult. In this situation, any adult who goes contrary to this law will be seen to have defiled the statutory rape laws of South Korea and will be made to face the penalties of his or her actions.

Age of Consent Laws

What is the Age of Consent in Korea? | Expat Guide Korea (2)

Photo Credits: Deccan Chronicle

Each country has its own rules, regulations or laws that guide the concept of Age of consent which are called Age of Consent Laws. These laws are put in place by the appropriate authority to protect her citizens as one of the major roles of Government. Hence all citizens are expected to abide by these laws and there are consequences that apply when one breaks these laws. Korea does not expect just her citizen to obey the age of consent laws, but it is also expected of every foreigner who lives within the country, to obey the laws including the Age of consent laws, by not involving in any act of sexual acts with a minor in Korea, no matter the gender. The country put up these laws to protect the younger ones or the under aged persons in the country from sexual advances. While all countries have their age of consent laws, it is important to note that it varies from one jurisdiction to another, though a good majority set the age of between the ages of 14- 18, this still varies from one country to another. Some countries consider gender of the participants in their Age of consent laws, while others don’t, some consider the act of sexual activity, while some make exception for minors to engage in sexual act with each other with what is called ‘Romeo and Juliet laws’, however such exceptions are not applicable in South Korea. There are charges and possible penalties one can face as a result of breaking any of the Age of consent laws.

What happens if I violate age of Consent laws?

What is the Age of Consent in Korea? | Expat Guide Korea (3)

Photo Credits: YouTube

Korea is known to be one of the very law-abiding countries and has zero tolerance for their rules and regulations. There are a lot of disadvantages that one can face if one violates age of consent laws.

When one who is of the age of consent, say an adult, engages in sexual activity with another person who is not of the age of consent, such a case can be interpreted as a misdemeanor, Rape, Statutory rape, or even child abuse and molestation, with the adult being the culprit and the younger one who is not of the age of consent being the victim.

In a case where both parties that engaged in sexual activity are both minors, an exception called “Romeo and Juliet laws”, is applied, though this does not apply to all the countries. Such minors will be educated on the dangers of their actions and other actions based on the country’s rule will be applied. In the same vein, in a case where both parties are adults and mutually consent to sexual activity, it is not a problem neither is it against the laws, but in a situation where both parties are of the age of consent, but party A does not agree to engage in a sexual act with the other person, say Party B, and Party A happens to be forced to do so, it is also against the rules of Korea and can be interpreted as a Rape case with party A being the victim and Party B being the offender.

It is very important to know that even if your partner mutually consents to engage in any sexual acts or the other with you even without being up to Korea stipulated age of consent, such partners opinion or consent is invalid as long as they are not of the age of consent, it is expected that you as an adult should understand that it will be a violation if you give in to the consent, knowing fully well that the said partner is not of the age of consent.

In summary, to avoid cases of child abuse, child assault, sexual harassment, rape, etc., it is important to ensure that your partner is of the age of consent and you both mutually agreed to engage in sexual activities.

What is the purpose of setting an age of consent?

What is the Age of Consent in Korea? | Expat Guide Korea (4)

Photo Credits: Woke Journal

The major function of a government is to protect its citizens and to do this effectively, rules and regulations are being put in place, and one of such laws is the age of consent law. The purpose of setting up an age of consent is to protect underage persons from sexual advances and cases of sexual harassment, rape, and abuse, especially from adults. Also, having an age of consent gives minors the sense of responsibility that at a certain age, they become responsible for their decisions as regards sexual life. Another reason for having an age of consent is to reduce the cases of child abuse, rapes, statutory rape, etc., in South Korea, and to make sure that those who violates this laws will be dully punished by the law.


Can a 16 year old date a 20 year old in Korea? ›

The age of consent in Korea is 20, so if you date an 18-year-old at 14 then by the time you're 16 and they're 20… it would be pretty illegal. I'd say you should not date with a four-year gap as a minor, it's not an agreeable situation and a 14-year-old is severely different from an 18-year-old.

Can a 16 year old date a 22 year old in Korea? ›

South Korea statutory rape law is violated when an individual has consensual sexual intercourse with a person under age 20 in Korean age. South Korea does not have a close-in-age exemption.

What is the lowest age of consent in Korea? ›

To strengthen the protection of minors, South Korea has revised its age of consent from 13 to 16. Under the new law, adults who have intercourse with individuals younger than 16 will be prosecuted for child sexual abuse, or rape.

Can an 18 year old date a 22 year old in Korean? ›

To answer your question, yes, it is perfectly legal. Is it legal to an 18 year old date a 31 year old in Korea?

Is 10 year age gap ok in Korea? ›

Studies have found partners with more than a 10-year gap in age experience social disapproval. But when it comes to our own relationships, both men and women prefer someone their own age, but are open to someone 10-15 years their junior or senior.

What country has the lowest age consent? ›

According to reports, Nigeria has the lowest age of consent across the world at 11 years which is followed by Angola at 12 years. On the other hand, in countries like the United Kingdom the age of consent is 16, in Greece and France it is 15 and 14 in Germany, and Italy.

Is the legal age in Japan 13? ›

Japan is poised to raise the age of consent from 13 to 16 in an overhaul of legislation prompted by criticism that existing laws fail to protect children from rape and other sexual offences.

Is it OK to ask age in Korea? ›

Though considered impertinent in many cultures, asking someone's age in South Korea is a social contract that establishes the pecking order between speakers.

Why is age of consent in Japan so low? ›

In society at that time, 13 was regarded as a reasonable age of consent. In addition, the legal marriageable age was 15 back then. Therefore, the age of 13, which is two years younger than 15, was considered sensible. This explains why the age of consent is 13 in Japan.

Can I get a minor in Korean? ›

A minor in Korean is a gateway for students to engage with a culture whose art, music, and technological innovations shape lives around the globe. Students learn to read, write, and converse in Korean through careful and extensive study of Korean literature, popular culture, and linguistics.

Can you drink at 16 in Korea? ›

Drinking Laws -- The legal drinking age is 20 (or more specifically Jan 1 of the year the person turns 20, since everyone is considered a year older when the year turns).

Can I go to Korea alone at 16? ›

Adolescents aged between 12 and 16 years may travel alone on international flights – if they are traveling only on Korean Air, the service is optional and subject to an extra fee.

Is 11 years a big age gap in Korea? ›

An age gap of 12 years is significant in Korean culture because it means that the couple is a full zodiac cycle apart.

What is the world's youngest consent age? ›

All Member States establish a minimum age for sexual consent. Most Member States set this between 14 and 16 years. The lowest minimum age is 14 years, set in seven Member States: Austria, Bulgaria, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Portugal. The highest is set at 18 years – in Malta.

Can I go clubbing in Korea at 18? ›

If you're not Korean, bring your passport. Clubs are quite particular and will not accept foreign ICs or car licenses as IDs. You have to be at least 19 years old.

What is the 3 date rule Korea? ›

The “three-day rule”

If you're dating in a country other than Korea, you're probably familiar with the “three-day rule.” This rule says that you shouldn't reach out to someone you're newly interested in via text or phone call for at least three days after getting their phone number.

Which Korean couple has a huge age gap? ›

[Korea Supporters Article 2021] Korean Celebrity Couples with more than 6 years age gap. Korean actor So Ji Sub (44) is married to former TV television presenter Jo Eun-jung (27).

Why do Koreans care about age? ›

As I mentioned previously, age plays a very important role within South Korean society. The culture utilizes a system of honorifics based on age and the Confucian idea of respecting one's elders. Therefore, there are certain niceties and behaviors one must adhere to if they are the younger party.

What is USA age of consent? ›

In the majority of states (34), it is 16 years of age. In the remaining states, the age of consent is either 17 or 18 years old (6 and 11 states, respectively). Note: Some states have marital exemptions.

Is it illegal to flirt with minors? ›

No, it is generally not illegal to simply be in a non-sexual relationship with a minor. However, just because it is not illegal to date someone underage does not mean that everything in the relationship is permissible. Some non-sexual conduct that is common in dating relationships may still be illegal.

What is Japanese age of consent? ›

A panel of the Japanese Justice Ministry has proposed raising the age of consent from 13 to 16. It forms part of a wider overhaul of Japan's laws on sex crimes, after multiple rape acquittals in 2019 caused outcry. The proposal also aims to criminalise the grooming of minors and expand the definition of rape.

What is the consent age in Russia? ›

The age of consent in Russia is 16 years old. However, as with many countries, Russia's age of consent has changed several times. The Criminal Code of the Russian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic (RSFSR) stated that consent was when "sexual maturity" was reached.

What is age of consent in China? ›

The age of consent in mainland China is 14 years old. China's two special administrative regions, Macau and Hong Kong, have their own local age of consent laws. Like China, Macau's age of consent is 14 years old. The age of consent in Hong Kong is 16 years old.

What is the age consent in Thailand? ›

Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act B.E. 2551 (2008) Sec. 4 “Child” means any person under eighteen years of age. Age of Consent: 15 years old Criminal Code of Thailand Sec.

What are the don'ts in Korea? ›

Avoid drawing parallels between the Korean culture or language to Japan. Korea should be acknowledged for its distinctiveness and difference from other East Asian cultures. Avoid exhibiting anger or distress in heated displays or outbursts of emotion.

Is it rude to be late in Korea? ›

“Korean time” describes the widespread tardiness or, more specifically, the relaxed attitude with which Koreans approach appointment times. Being a few minutes late to an appointment without giving prior notice is almost the norm among friends, and even being late by an hour or more is not uncommon.

What is the age consent in Saudi Arabia? ›

Saudi Arabia acceded to the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1996, which sets a minimum age of marriage of 18, and ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 2000, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.

What is the age of consent in Pakistan? ›

Age of Consent: 18 years Pakistan Penal Code Child Abuse Amendment Act Art. 377A.

What is the consent age in Brazil? ›

Brazil. In Brazil, the age of consent is 14, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Although not legally formalized, there is judicial precedent allowing a close-in-age exception for those aged 12–13 to engage in sexual activity with partners who are as much as 5 years older.

Can minors get married in Korea? ›

Under the Civil Code 2011 the minimum legal age of marriage is 18 years. However, minors can be married with parental consent.

How old is a 16 year old American in Korea? ›

3. How to Say Your Age in Korean (Updated in 2023)
Birth YearAgeKorean
200915 years old열다섯 살
200816 years old열여섯 살
200717 years old열일곱 살
200618 years old열여덟 살
86 more rows

What grade would a 14 year old be in Korea? ›

Middle schools in South Korea consist of three grades. Most students enter at age 12 and graduate at age 14 or 15. These three grades correspond roughly to grades 7–9 in the North American system and Years 8–10 in the English and Welsh system.

Which country allows 13 year olds to drink? ›

Around the world, the age when it's legal to purchase or be served most alcohol products varies from 13 in Burkina Faso to 25 in Eritrea.

Is 18 in Korea a minor? ›

Are 18 year olds adults in Korea? In Korea, the age of majority is 19 (int'l age, not Korean age). You're an adult once you turn 19. In law, this means you can act independently (e.g., enter into contracts w/o parents' consent).

What is the driving age in Korea? ›

Driving licenses in South Korea may be attained at age 18 for cars and motorcycles. South Korea is one of the few nations that issue International Driving Permits (IDP) to sixteen-year-olds. This was made possible by a South Korean law in 2009, which gave Military cadets the requirement of driving a motor-vehicle.

How old do you have to be to go clubbing in Korea as a foreigner? ›

Bring your passport and check the club's age limit

If you're not Korean, bring your passport. Clubs are quite particular and will not accept foreign ICs or car licenses as IDs. You have to be at least 19 years old.

Do you have to be the same age to be friends in Korea? ›

Age Matters

Strictly speaking, in Korean society you can only be friends with someone who is within the same age group. A hyung (형; a term used by a guy for an older brother) can't be friends with a dongsaeng (동생, a younger person), but this doesn't mean that they can't have a deep and close relationship.

What is the age of first marriage in Korea? ›

The average age of first-time marriage was 31.1 years for women and 33.4 years for men, as of 2021. Compared to the average age of first-time marriage in 1991, 30 years ago -- 24.8 for women and 27.9 for men – women and men now wait 6.3 years and 5.5 years, respectively.

What happens if I marry a Korean? ›

You can get Korean citizenship by marrying a Korean. Foreigners can get an F-2-1 visa for one year after marriage with a Korean citizen. One year of residence may extend from a minimum of one year to a maximum of two years.

What is the average age of marriage in Korea? ›

Median age at first marriage in South Korea from 1900 to 2021, by gender (in years)
9 more rows
Apr 13, 2022

Why is the age of consent 12 in the Philippines? ›

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law a bill that raises the minimum age of sexual consent from 12 to 16, his office said on Monday, in a bid to protect minors from rape and sexual abuse.

What is the age of consent in Ukraine? ›

Sexual intercourse and other activities of a sexual nature with persons under 16 years of age are illegal under Articles 155 and 156 of the Criminal Code, punishable by deprivation of liberty for up to five years.

Why is the age of consent 14 in Germany? ›

The current rules for age of consent in Germany were set following a post-reunification penal law reform in 1994. The ages of 14 and 16 had been relevant since the Criminal Code for the German Empire came into force in 1872: Under § 176, sexual acts with children under 14 were illegal and have been always since.

Can an 18 year old American drink in Korea? ›

The legal drinking age in Korea for foreigners is 19 years of age for most people. Specifically, adults can legally drink alcohol from January 1st of the year they turn 20, since everyone adds one year at the start of the new year.

Is 19 considered a minor in Korea? ›

Yep, you're considered as as adult at the age of 19(20, Korean age)!

Can high schoolers drink in Korea? ›

Underage drinking is strictly prohibited by law, nevertheless, adolescents report having access through social supply from family, friends and other members of the society.

Can a 16 year old date a 20 year old? ›

What's the oldest a 16 can date? There aren't any laws around being in a non-sexual relationship where one person is under 18 and the other over. Once you turn 16 it's not illegal for someone to have sex with you no matter how old they are.

How old would a 16 year old be in Korea? ›

3. How to Say Your Age in Korean (Updated in 2023)
Birth YearAgeKorean
200915 years old열다섯 살
200816 years old열여섯 살
200717 years old열일곱 살
200618 years old열여덟 살
86 more rows

What is the age limit to date in Korea? ›

The Age of Consent in South Korea is 20 years old. The age of consent is the minimum age at which an individual is considered legally old enough to consent to participation in sexual activity.

Is 17 and 19 legal in Korea? ›

Legal age in Korea is 20 in Korean age. You can drink, you can smoke, you can get a driver license since then. For legal matters, Korea uses international age. This means to buy/consume alcohol, vote, and for anything else requiring adulthood, one must be 19 years old.

What is the oldest a 13 year old can date? ›

Close in age exceptions

A 12 or 13 year old can consent to sexual activity with a partner as long as the partner is less than two years older and there is no relationship of trust, authority or dependency or any other exploitation of the young person.

Is it OK for a 19 to date a 17? ›

A person under the age of 18 years cannot legally consent to sexual intercourse. The age of consent is the same for both males and females. Therefore, if you are 19 years old and have sex with a 17-year-old, you could be arrested for a sex crime. In most cases, the crime would be statutory rape.

Is it illegal for a 15 to date a 18? ›

In a Nutshell: Sex between an 18 year-old and a 15 year-old is illegal in California, meaning any touching of “private parts” of either, even with consent of both parties (and perhaps even the parents of each teenager) is illegal in California because the age of consent is 18.

Is 17 a minor in Korea? ›

2 -- Definitions The term “children and/or juveniles” means persons under 19 years of age: Provided, That persons for whom the first day of January of the year in which they reach 19 years of age has arrived shall be excluded. Civil Act (Amended by Act No. 8720, Dec. 21, 2007) Art.

Why can't you say 18 in Korean? ›

Unfortunately, if you say this number with even the slightest error in pronunciation, it sounds an awful lot like the F word in Korean (shi-bal / 씨발). It is actually so similar even amongst Koreans, that '18' is often used as slang on chat rooms and video games to replace the F word.

What age is a minor in Japan? ›

In Japan, statements by minors (under 20 years of age) in civil suits and civil mediation are made through legal representatives as minors do not have any litigation capacity.

Do you have to be 18 to buy condoms in Korea? ›

Can minors buy condoms in Korea? Yet the same survey found that only 59.3 percent of teenagers with sexual experience said they use contraceptives during sexual intercourse. South Korea allows teenagers to buy condoms without limits, except for textured ones.


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