Age System In South Korea

Many of you are wondering why in South Korea a person is older than you if they were born the same year as you. Well, I will try to explain this as clear as possible.

Age in Korea is very important. Often the first question that people ask is ‘How old are you?’ Age is important not just for things like whether you are old enough to buy cigarettes and alcohol, but for a whole variety of social interactions in Korea.

People use a different language when speaking to people of a different age. They expect people to act differently, with younger people expected to pour drinks, or older people expected to pay for things. Even the way you refer to your friends is based on their age; if they are a year older than you, they might be your noona or eonni, if they are younger, they will be your dongsaeng.

People in most countries calculate their age based on their birthday. If you were born on April 1st 2000, then you would turn a year old on April 1st 2001. However, in Korea, age isn’t calculated based on your birthday.

In South Korea when you are born you are 1 years old this is because they take into consideration all the months you where in your mothers womb. Then you will  gain another year or two on New Years Day ( January 1st). No matter when your birthday is, if you were 20 years old on December 31st, then on January 1st, you will be 21. Korean age works as if everybody was born on January 1st.

It’s really simple to find your Korean age. Since Koreans gain 1 year on New Year’s Day, you only need to know your birth year to find your age. Take the current year (2017) and subtract the year you were born (1997, for example). This will give us 20. Then, remember to add 1 because a Korean baby is 1 year old at birth. Now we have 21. A person who is 20 in America can be 21 or 22 in Korea.

There you have it when ever you go to Korea instead of slowing down the clock you speed it up and see your age flash before your eyes.

What do you think of this age system?



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