Korean Age

When I first arrived in Korea, I started hearing people mention in passing the difference between their American age and their Korean age.  I got the vague impression that I was older in Korean years, but exactly how much older continued to baffle me – I heard both 1 and 2 years added to my age.  A few days ago a team of 3 native Koreans were finally able to straighten me out.

I was born in November of 1983.  In the United States, this makes me 25 years old.  In Korea, I am 27.  Here’s why:

Fact 1:  Here, when you are born you are already one year old.  From what I was told this is their way of counting the period from conception to birth – they round up the 9 months to a full year.

Fact 2:  No matter when in the year you are born, your age goes up a year on January 1 of the following year.  So when I was born in late 1983, I turned two about 40 days later on January 1 of 1984.  This means that in Korea, I am exactly the same age as everyone who was born in 1983, and right now that age is 27.

Confusing?  It certainly was for me – the three Koreans who explained it to me were the third group of people to try, and the only ones to succeed.   Now I just have to get used to the idea of being 27 two years early.

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6 responses to “Korean Age

  1. How’s it feel to be that much closer to 30? 🙂

  2. I get the concept behind counting the months after conception. Did anyone explain the other part?

  3. Does that make you a spinster in Korea?

  4. steph – totally! for my first couple of weeks here I was asked why I wasn’t married/when I planned to get married on an almost daily basis.

  5. I do not like this at all. That means I’ll be 29 soon? EW.

  6. I`m Korean. My foreign friends too thought the way Koreans count their age is difficult to understand. I was looking for the clear answer for years, and I finally got it. Visit my blog and read what I wrote about Korean age. I`m planning to give a free Korean lesson online, and make worksheets and picture dictionary for those who wanna learn Korean language.

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