When you’re in South Korea and talking to locals, you might quickly stumble upon the concept of Korean age. South Korea has a unique system for determining age, which is only used by them today though it was a common practice throughout Asia long ago.
While South Korea plans to officially use the international age system, most people in South Korea still use the Korean age system in everyday talk, as it’s been part of their culture for so long.
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The Korean age system works by everyone being one year old at the time that they are born and everyone becoming one year older on New Year’s day. In Korean age, your age is determined solely by your birth year, not the day you’re born.
Table of contents
- How does Korean age work?
- Is age counted differently in Korea?
- Why do Koreans add 1 or 2 years to their age?
How does Korean age work?
Many Koreans ask people how old they are after getting to know someone, and when they do, you’ll quickly be introduced to the concept of Korean age.
When I first visited South Korea, I was not aware that they use a different age system, and I was surprised to know that they determine their age based on the Korean age system when telling how old they are in everyday conversations.
The international age system, which is used by most countries in the world, is the one that you probably know and are used to, where you are 0 years old when you are born and become one year older each time your birthday comes around.
In Korean age, you’re always one or two years older than you currently are in international age. If your birthday has not come around in the current year, then you are two years older in Korean age than your international age, and when your birthday has come around, you’re one year older in Korean age than your international age.
This is because Korean age is determined entirely by the year you were born and not the day that you were born. In Korean age, everyone is one year old at the moment that they are born. They then become one year older on New Year’s day, along with everyone else.
South Korea does have plans to start using the international age system as their official age system, but Korean people still use the Korean age system in everyday situations, and that probably won’t change for a while, even if they adopt the international age system.
As the time that you are born in a year doesn’t matter for your Korean age, a baby born on the 31st of December, is according to Korean age, 2 years old the next day, the 1st of January, while they are only one day old according to the international age system.
Is age counted differently in Korea?
Yes, Korean people use the Korean age system, which makes everyone one or two years older, depending on whether or not their birthday has come around in the current year.
Korean age is determined solely by birth year and not birthday. People start at one year old when they’re born and become one year older on New Year’s day.
South Korea has plans to start using the international age system instead of the Korean age system, but people in Korea are still used to Korean age, so it’s still what they use in everyday conversation.
Why do Koreans add 1 or 2 years to their age?
Koreans add 1 or 2 years to their age compared to their international age, as they use the Korean age system.
The Korean age system makes everyone one or two years older than they are in international age.
That’s how to Korean age system works!
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