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Does age matter to Korean?


In this article, we will explore the topic of whether age matters to Koreans. Age has been an important factor in Korean culture, and it is not uncommon for people to ask each other their age upon meeting. We will examine how age affects various aspects of life in Korea, including work, relationships, and social interactions.

Korean Age System

Koreans have a unique age system that is based on both the Gregorian calendar and the traditional lunar calendar. This system adds one year to a person’s age on January 1st rather than on their actual birthday. This means that a person born in December would be considered two years old in Korean age on January 1st of the following year.

Respect for Elders

In Korean culture, respect for elders is highly valued. Older individuals are often seen as wise and deserving of respect. This can manifest in different ways, such as using formal language and titles when addressing older people or offering them the seat on public transportation.

Career Advancement

In Korea, age can play a significant role in career advancement. Older employees are often seen as having more experience and therefore may be given priority for promotions or leadership positions. This can lead to younger employees feeling frustrated or stuck in their careers.

Dating and Marriage

Age can also be an important factor in dating and marriage in Korea. It is not uncommon for people to prefer partners who are similar in age or slightly older. Additionally, parents may have a say in their children’s choice of partner and may prefer someone who is older or more established.

Social Hierarchy

Korean society has a strong emphasis on hierarchy, and age is often used as a way to establish social status. Older individuals are typically seen as having higher status and may be given more respect or authority in social situations.

Familial Obligations

Koreans place a high value on family, and age can play a role in familial obligations. Older siblings are often expected to take care of younger siblings and to be responsible for the family’s well-being. This can create a sense of pressure for older individuals to succeed and provide for their families.

Perceptions of Youth

Despite the importance placed on age in Korean culture, there is also a perception that youth is desirable. Younger individuals are often seen as more energetic and innovative, which can be an asset in certain industries or professions.


While respecting elders is important in Korean culture, there is also a growing concern about ageism. Older individuals may face discrimination in the workplace or in other areas of life, and there is a push for more awareness and acceptance of different ages.

Changing Attitudes

As Korean society becomes more modernized, attitudes towards age are beginning to shift. Younger generations may be less concerned with age and more focused on individual merit or achievement. Additionally, there is a growing emphasis on diversity and inclusivity, which may lead to more acceptance of people of all ages.


In conclusion, age does matter to Koreans, but its significance varies depending on the context. Age can affect career advancement, social interactions, familial obligations, and perceptions of status. However, changing attitudes towards age and a growing awareness of ageism may lead to a more inclusive and accepting society.

Is age difference important in Korea?

Korean culture places significant emphasis on age, leading to a strict hierarchy in various areas such as family, work, and communities. Elders hold a position of authority and are commonly responsible for making decisions. This dynamic may be familiar to those who have spent time in Korean communities.

Does age difference matter in a relationship in Korea?

In Korean culture, a 12-year age difference between a couple is considered significant because it represents a full zodiac cycle.

What is the significance of age in Korea?

In Korean culture, age plays a significant role not just in determining legal privileges such as alcohol and cigarette purchases, but also in social interactions. Individuals use distinct language when conversing with those who are older or younger than them or of the same age.

Is it normal for Koreans to ask your age?

In South Korea, it is common to be asked about your age after meeting someone new. This is not just a social norm, but an agreement that establishes the hierarchy and status between individuals.

Why do Koreans care about age?

Age-based social hierarchies that exist in contemporary Korea are rooted in Confucian principles that emphasize the importance of showing respect to older individuals. As stated by Robert Fouser, a former professor at Seoul National University, it is expected for younger people to exhibit respect towards their elders.

What is considered flirting in Korea?

In Korean culture, flirting is similar to what is portrayed in Korean dramas, using charming and endearing phrases to win over the affection of the person they are interested in. In addition to romantic language, they also engage in aegyo, or cute behavior, to flirt.

In recent years, there has been a growing trend of Koreans celebrating “ban-gap” or their traditional birthday, which is based on the lunar calendar. This celebration is seen as a way to honor and respect one’s age and to connect with Korean traditions and culture.

Another area where age can have an impact is in the entertainment industry. Many Korean celebrities are subject to strict age limits, especially in terms of their careers as singers or idols. It is not uncommon for performers to retire from the industry once they reach a certain age or to face criticism for continuing to perform past their perceived prime.

Despite the importance placed on age in Korean culture, there is also a recognition that age is just a number. Many Koreans believe that one’s value lies in their character, accomplishments, and contributions to society, rather than their age alone.

Overall, while age does play a significant role in Korean culture, attitudes towards age are constantly evolving. As Korea continues to modernize and become more diverse, it will be interesting to see how these attitudes change and what new perspectives emerge.

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