The Unique Korean Age System

"Back to the future in South Korea," as soon as you land in South Korea, you get one year older.

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A shot of a mother touching her baby son
A shot of a mother touching her baby son

How would you feel if you instantly got older by one or two years? This happens if you use how people count their age in Korea. Interestingly, Koreans count their age in a different way. This particular way to count ages can be calculated by a simple mathematical formula, which is (the current year ­ your birth year) + one year.

In my case, I was born in 1994, so when the January issue of The Korea Insider is published in 2016, I will be 22 years old. However, if I apply the Korean Age Formula, it will be (2016 ­ 1994) + 1, and my Korean Age will be counted as 23. Those who have heard of the Korean Age for the first time might get a headache when they learn about this Korean way of counting ages.

On the other hand, in America, when a baby is born, he/she is zero years old. However, in South Korea, when a baby is born, he/she is already one year old. What is more interesting is that people in Korea will gain one year on January 1st of every year (New Year’s Day). Yes, that is right. If somebody was born on December 31st and it turned to January 1st the next day, that person might be considered 2 years old in Korea. This is how people age in Korea! Maybe guys do not care much about their age, but for the ladies out there, Korean Age might not be a thing they want to experience.

By Issei Matsura

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