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How do Koreans count age?

The Korean Age System

The Korean age system is quite different from the Western age system, and it can be a bit confusing for those who are not familiar with it. In Korea, a person’s age is determined by their birth year and the lunar calendar. This means that a person is considered one year old at birth, and then they add one year to their age on New Year’s Day, regardless of their actual birthdate.

Why Does Korea Use This System?

The Korean age system dates back to ancient times when people calculated their ages based on the lunar calendar. At the time, it was the most accurate way to measure time, and it was also tied to traditional customs and beliefs. Today, although the Gregorian calendar is widely used in Korea, the traditional age system is still observed for cultural reasons and is an important part of Korean identity.

How Does It Work in Practice?

If a person is born on December 31st, they will be considered two years old on January 1st of the following year. This can be confusing for foreigners who are used to celebrating their birthdays as the day they were born. However, Koreans also celebrate their birthdays and often give gifts or have parties to mark the occasion.

What About International Age?

Although the Korean age system is used in daily life, international age is also recognized in Korea. When Koreans travel abroad or interact with foreigners, they will often use their international age to avoid confusion. International age is calculated based on the Gregorian calendar and is the same as in Western countries.

Why Is Age So Important in Korea?

Age is very important in Korean society and plays a significant role in how people interact with each other. People are expected to show respect to their elders and those who are older are often seen as more knowledgeable and experienced. Age is also a factor in many social situations, such as job interviews, where older candidates may be preferred over younger ones.

How Do Koreans Celebrate Birthdays?

Although birthdays are not as big of a deal in Korea as they are in some Western countries, they are still celebrated. Often, people will have a small gathering with family or friends and eat traditional Korean foods like rice cake soup. Some people also give gifts, although it is not as common as in the West.

What About Special Birthdays?

In Korea, certain birthdays are considered more significant than others. For example, the 100th day after a baby’s birth is celebrated, as well as the first birthday (known as doljanchi). In addition, the 60th and 70th birthdays are considered important milestones and are often celebrated with a big party.

How Does This System Affect Traveling?

When Koreans travel abroad, they often use their international age to avoid confusion. However, when applying for visas or other official documents, they may need to use their Korean age. This can be particularly confusing for those born near the end of the year.

What Are Some Common Misconceptions About Korean Age?

One common misconception is that Koreans are considered one year old at birth because they believe in reincarnation. However, this is not true – the system is based on the lunar calendar and has nothing to do with religious beliefs. Another misconception is that Koreans age faster than Westerners because they add one year to their age every January 1st. However, this is not true – Koreans simply have a different way of calculating age.

What Are Some Other Countries That Use This System?

Although the Korean age system is unique, it is not the only country to use a different system for calculating age. China and Vietnam also use a lunar-based system, while Japan has its own unique system based on the year of the emperor’s reign.


The Korean age system may seem confusing to outsiders, but it is an important part of Korean culture and identity. Understanding how it works can help foreigners navigate social situations and interact with Koreans more effectively. Although it may take some time to get used to, the Korean age system is just one of the many fascinating aspects of Korean culture.

How old is 25 in Korean age?

A guide on how to express your age in Korean as of 2023, including the Korean words for different ages based on birth year. The table shows the Korean phrases for ages ranging from 23 to 48.

What grade would a 16 year old be in Korea?

The typical age range for 9th grade is 14-15 (16) and for 10th grade it is 15-16 (17), while for 11th grade it is 16-17 (18). These are the typical age ranges for high school students in different grades.

Why do Koreans count age differently?

However, South Korea also uses the international method of calculating age by starting at zero at birth and adding a year on every birthday. To end any confusion, from 23 June, the country will officially adopt the international system – at least on official documents.Dec 9, 2022

Why do Koreans add 1 age?

In Korea, people’s age is calculated by adding one year for the time spent in the womb before birth. Korean age is updated on New Year’s Day, not on one’s actual birthday. However, Koreans still celebrate their birthdays on the day they were born and count their real age.

Is 18 a minor in Korea?

The definition of “child” refers to an individual who has not yet reached the age of 18.

Why is the age of consent 20 in Korea?

South Korea increased the age of consent to 20 in order to better protect minors, as the existing law on sex crimes was deemed insufficient. This decision was made after careful consideration and deliberation by the country.

In addition to the age system, there are other cultural norms and customs that are important to understand when interacting with Koreans. For example, respect for authority figures such as parents, teachers, and bosses is highly valued in Korean society. It is also common for people to bow as a sign of respect when greeting or saying goodbye to someone.

Another important aspect of Korean culture is the emphasis on group harmony and collectivism. Koreans often prioritize the needs of the group over their individual desires and may be hesitant to express disagreement or criticism openly. This can sometimes lead to indirect communication or a “reading between the lines” approach in conversations.

Food is also a central part of Korean culture, and there are many delicious dishes to try. Some popular Korean foods include kimchi (spicy fermented vegetables), bulgogi (marinated grilled beef), bibimbap (rice bowl with assorted vegetables and meat), and tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes).

Korean pop culture, especially K-Pop and K-Dramas, has gained international popularity in recent years. Many people around the world have become fans of groups like BTS or dramas like Crash Landing On You. Understanding these cultural phenomena can be a great way to connect with Koreans and learn more about their culture.

Overall, learning about the Korean age system is just one step in understanding this fascinating culture. By gaining a deeper appreciation for Korean customs, traditions, and values, we can build stronger connections with Koreans and foster greater cross-cultural understanding.

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