Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Korean Culture: Determining Your Age

Considering that tomorrow is my birthday, it seems very appropriate that I do a short essay on the Korean way of telling one's age.

My birth date is August 17, 1988.

In America...
Today I am 22, and tomorrow I will be 23.

In Korea...
Today I am 24, and tomorrow I will still be 24.

Here's how they do it.

When you are born in Korea, you are automatically one year old.  They count the time in the womb as one year (yes, even though the gestation period is only 9 months).  Then, you don't officially change your age until the changing of the new lunar year.  In 2012, the new lunar begins on February 3rd.  It is on this day that everyone levels up and changes their age.

I'll use myself as an example here.

When I was born on August 17, 1988, I was already one year old (Korean style).  Then, on the turn of the new year in 1989 (which was February 6th), I gained another year.  In essence, I was two years old in Korean age before I'd reached 6 months of American age!

To further illustrate, here's a little video to help with the visual learning.
(See?  I'm learning how to be a better teacher already!)

Korea 5_Everyone’s age advances at New Year. from 43 Films on Vimeo.


  1. I knew you were in the future over there, but you don't have go getting old too..

    Happy Birthday tomorrow, love.

  2. Man, do they just have normal birthday parties or how do those work? And I said on Twitter already, but happy birthday :)

    PS We're the same age! Did you know that? Another way we're the same haha :)

  3. crazy! that's pretty neat


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