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Do Koreans ask for age?


Korean culture has its own set of unique customs and traditions, one of which is the practice of asking someone’s age upon meeting them for the first time. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this custom and how it is perceived by Koreans and foreigners alike.

The importance of age in Korean culture

Age plays a significant role in Korean culture, as it is believed to be a sign of maturity and respect. The older you are, the more experience and wisdom you have accumulated, which is highly valued in Korean society. This is why Koreans often ask for each other’s age, as it helps to establish social hierarchy and respect.

How Koreans ask for age

In Korean culture, there are different ways to ask for someone’s age depending on the level of formality and familiarity between the two people. For example, younger people may use informal language when asking their peers or friends for their age, while older people may use more polite language when addressing someone who is older or in a higher position.

The taboo of asking for women’s age

While it is common for Koreans to ask for each other’s age, there is a taboo against asking women their age. This is because age is linked to beauty and youthfulness, and women are often judged based on their appearance. As a result, it is considered impolite to ask a woman her age unless she volunteers the information herself.

Why foreigners may find it uncomfortable

For foreigners who are not used to this custom, being asked for their age can be uncomfortable or even offensive. This is because in Western cultures, age is often considered a private matter and not something that should be discussed openly. However, it is important to understand that in Korean culture, asking for someone’s age is not meant to be rude or intrusive, but rather a way of showing respect.

How to respond to the question

If you are asked for your age by a Korean person, it is important to respond politely and respectfully. You can simply state your age and thank the person for asking, or you can use a more formal response depending on the situation. It is also acceptable to ask the person their age in return, as this shows that you are interested in establishing a rapport with them.

The role of age in Korean business culture

In Korean business culture, age plays an even more significant role as it is often used to determine seniority and hierarchy within a company. Employees are expected to show respect to their superiors who are older than them, and this can sometimes lead to conflicts or misunderstandings between younger and older employees.

How age affects social relationships

Age also affects social relationships in Korean culture, as people tend to form close friendships with others who are of a similar age. This is why there are different terms for friends based on age, such as “chingu” for same-age friends or “sunbae” for older friends. Age can also determine the type of activities or hobbies that people enjoy, as younger Koreans may prefer more modern or trendy activities while older Koreans may prefer more traditional pastimes.

The changing attitudes towards age in modern Korea

While age is still an important aspect of Korean culture, there has been a shift towards more modern attitudes in recent years. Younger generation Koreans are more open-minded and accepting of different lifestyles and values, and there is less emphasis on traditional hierarchies based on age. However, asking for someone’s age is still considered a polite way of showing respect and interest.


Asking for someone’s age may seem like an unusual custom to outsiders, but it is an important part of Korean culture that reflects the value placed on experience, wisdom, and respect. Understanding this custom can help foreigners to better navigate social situations in Korea and build stronger relationships with Korean people.

What is the age rule in Korea?

In Korea, age is calculated differently than in Western countries due to two factors. Firstly, everyone is considered one year old at birth. Secondly, everyone’s age increases by one at the start of each new calendar year, regardless of their actual birthdate. Therefore, a person’s Korean age is not affected by their date of birth.

Is age important in Korean?

Age is a significant factor in South Korean culture, and a system of honorifics is used based on age and the concept of showing respect to elders, which originates from Confucian philosophy.

How do you ask someone’s age in Korean?

In Korean, a respectful way to ask someone their age is by saying 몇 살이에요? [myeot sa-ri-e-yo?].

What is the illegal age gap in Korea?

In South Korea, it is considered statutory rape to have consensual sexual intercourse with someone under the age of 20 in Korean age.

Why do Koreans ask your age?

In Korean culture, age is a significant factor in determining an individual’s roles and responsibilities, leading to a strict hierarchical system in family, work, and communities. If you have been in a Korean community, you may have noticed that older individuals hold decision-making authority.

Do Korean wives take their husband’s name?

In Korean naming customs, a person has a family name and a given name. Similar to other cultures, a child typically takes their father’s last name. However, unlike some other cultures, Korean women do not adopt their husband’s surname after marriage.

It is worth noting that age is not the only factor that determines social status and hierarchy in Korean culture. Education, occupation, and family background also play a significant role in determining a person’s social standing. However, age remains an important factor, especially in more traditional and conservative parts of Korean society.

In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of age discrimination in Korean society. Older people may face barriers in employment or be excluded from certain social activities. This has led to calls for more inclusive policies and attitudes towards aging, as well as efforts to bridge the generation gap through intergenerational programs and initiatives.

Despite the changing attitudes towards age in modern Korea, the practice of asking for someone’s age remains deeply ingrained in Korean culture. It is a way of establishing respect and hierarchy, and is often seen as a polite way of getting to know someone. For foreigners who may find this custom uncomfortable or unfamiliar, it is important to approach it with an open mind and cultural sensitivity. By understanding and respecting this aspect of Korean culture, foreigners can build stronger relationships with their Korean counterparts and gain a deeper appreciation for the rich traditions and customs of this fascinating country.

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