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Why is age a big deal in Korea?


Age is a crucial factor in Korean culture, and it plays a significant role in shaping social interactions and relationships. The importance of age in Korea is deeply ingrained in the country’s Confucian roots, where respect for elders is a fundamental virtue. This article aims to explore the reasons why age is a big deal in Korea and how it influences various aspects of Korean society.

The concept of seniority

Korea has a hierarchical society where seniority is highly valued. In Korean workplaces, the oldest or most senior employee is respected and given the most authority. This seniority-based system impacts promotions, job security, and pay raises. It also affects how people interact with each other, with younger employees expected to show deference to their seniors.

The role of age in relationships

In Korea, age plays a crucial role in determining social relationships. Older people are expected to be respected and deferred to by younger ones. Age also influences romantic relationships, where partners are expected to be of similar ages or have an age difference of up to five years.

The importance of age in education

Age is also essential in Korean education. Children start school at the age of six and progress through their educational journey with students of the same age. Korean universities also have strict age-based admission policies, which can make it challenging for older students to gain admission.

The impact of age on marriage

In Korea, there is social pressure to get married at a young age, especially for women. Women who remain unmarried past their mid-twenties are often stigmatized as “old maids.” Age is also relevant when considering potential marriage partners, with parents typically seeking partners who are of similar ages or slightly older.

The significance of age in the workplace

Age plays a significant role in the Korean workplace. Older employees are viewed as more experienced, and their opinions are given more weight. Younger employees are expected to show respect and deference to their elders, which can create a hierarchical work environment.

The influence of age on politics

Age is also significant in Korean politics, where older politicians are viewed as having more experience and wisdom. The country’s first female president, Park Geun-hye, was elected at the age of 60, making her the oldest person to be elected to the position.

The impact of age on social status

In Korea, age is closely linked to social status. Older people are generally viewed as having higher status and are given more respect. Age is also used as a way of determining social hierarchy, with people of similar ages forming close-knit groups.

The impact of age on family relationships

In Korean families, age plays a crucial role in shaping relationships. The oldest member of the family is typically seen as the head of the household and is given great respect. Age also determines how family members interact with each other, with younger members expected to show deference to their elders.

The significance of age in traditional ceremonies

Age plays an essential role in many traditional Korean ceremonies. For example, during the Seollal (Lunar New Year) holiday, the eldest family member performs a ritual that involves bowing to their ancestors and offering food and drink.

The influence of age on language use

In Korean culture, language use is closely linked to age. Honorific language (polite language used to show respect) is used when speaking to elders or superiors. Younger people are expected to use informal language when speaking to peers or those younger than them.

The impact of age on healthcare

Age is also significant in Korean healthcare. Older patients are often given more respect and are offered more comprehensive care. The country’s aging population has created a need for specialized geriatric care, which has led to the development of senior-friendly hospitals and clinics.


In conclusion, age is a big deal in Korea as it influences various aspects of society, including relationships, education, politics, and healthcare. Understanding the importance of age in Korean culture is crucial for anyone living or working in Korea, as it impacts how people interact with each other and navigate social hierarchies. As the country’s population continues to age, the significance of age is likely to increase further.

Is age difference a big deal in Korea?

In Korean culture, a 12-year age difference between a couple is significant as it indicates that they are a full cycle apart in the zodiac calendar.

Why do Koreans ask for your age?

Korean society has a strict hierarchy system based on age, which determines an individual’s roles and responsibilities in family, work, and communities. This often results in elders having the authority to make decisions, as they are considered to hold more seniority.

Why is the 60th birthday important in Korea?

Even though it’s the 60th birthday in terms of age, under the Korean age system, the person would be celebrating their 61st. This is because the number 60 signifies the completion of a major cycle in one’s life and the start of another, according to the traditional lunar calendar cycle of 60 years.

Why can’t you say 18 in Korean?

Regrettably, a minor mispronunciation of this number can result in it sounding like a vulgar word in Korean (shi-bal / 씨발). The similarity is so striking that even Koreans often use the number ’18’ as a substitute for the offensive word in online chat rooms and video games.

Is Korean age still a thing?

South Koreans will have their age reduced by one year starting in June 2023, due to the elimination of the “Korean age” counting system by President Yoon Suk-yeol’s government. This decision will affect all South Korean citizens.

What is the Korean news about age?

The traditional methods of calculating age in South Korea will no longer be used on official documents, starting in June 2023. This change in law will result in South Koreans being one or even two years younger on their paperwork. The new law was passed by the South Korean parliament on Thursday.

The impact of age on social media

Age also plays a role in social media use in Korea. Older people tend to use social media platforms like Facebook, while younger people prefer Instagram and Twitter. This age-based preference has shaped the digital landscape in Korea, with different social media platforms catering to different age groups.

The importance of age in business relationships

In addition to the workplace, age is also essential in business relationships in Korea. It is common for business partners to exchange gifts during meetings, and the value of the gift is often determined by the seniority of the recipient. Age also influences how business negotiations are conducted, with older participants expected to be given more respect and deference.

The impact of age on cultural traditions

Age is closely tied to many traditional Korean cultural practices. For example, the coming-of-age ceremony (Seijinshiki) celebrates individuals turning 20 years old and entering adulthood. Age also influences the way traditional holidays like Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) and Lunar New Year are celebrated, with older family members taking on important roles in these ceremonies.

The significance of age in entertainment and media

Age is also relevant in the Korean entertainment industry, where performers are often grouped together based on their age. For example, K-pop groups have a strict hierarchy that is based on the age of the members. This age-based system creates a unique dynamic within these groups, with older members often seen as mentors and role models for their younger counterparts.

The impact of age on fashion trends

Age also influences fashion trends in Korea. Older Koreans tend to dress more conservatively than younger generations, with traditional clothing styles like hanbok remaining popular among older Koreans. However, there is a growing trend of older Koreans embracing more modern fashion styles, which challenge traditional notions of age-appropriate clothing.

The role of age in sports

Age is also significant in Korean sports, with athletes often retiring at a younger age than their international counterparts. This is partly due to the intense training regimens that Korean athletes undergo, which can take a toll on their bodies. Age is also relevant in determining the hierarchy of sports teams, with older players often serving as team leaders and mentors.

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