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Korean age is different than the age used in most countries. The whole concept of age is deeply embedded in the culture and language.
We’ll fill you in on what you need to know about age in Korea, including your own Korean age!
Age in Korea is very important in Korean culture. Far more important than it is in Europe or the USA.
Often the first question that people ask is ‘How old are you?’ People’s age is important not just for things like whether you are old enough to buy cigarettes and alcohol, but for a whole variety of social interactions in Korea.
- 1 What is Korean Age?
- 2 A Year in the Womb
- 3 What is my Korean age?
- 4 Korean Age Calculator
- 5 How to Say Your Age in Korean
- 6 Korean Age Words
- 7 When is international age used in Korea?
- 8 Why is Korean Age Different?
- 9 When Do Koreans Celebrate their Birthdays?
- 10 Wow, we are the same age!
People use different language when speaking to people of a different age. They expect people to act differently, with younger people expected to pour drinks, or older people expected to pay for things.
Even the way you refer to your friends is based on their age; if they are a year older than you, they might be your 누나 (noona) or 언니 (eonni), if they are younger, they will be your 동생 (dongsaeng).
With all this importance put on age, answering the question ‘How old are you?’ is very important. But the answer to the question might not be as simple as you think it is.
What is Korean Age?
Age in Korea is different from age in other countries. You may be thirty years old whether you are in the USA, France, or Russia, but as soon as you arrive in Korea, you magically become thirty-one or thirty-two. How can this be? Well, Koreans have a different way of calculating their age than people in other countries.
People in most countries calculate their age based on their birthday. If you were born on April 1st 2000, then you would turn 17 on April 1st 2017. However, in Korea, age isn’t calculated based on your birthday.
A Year in the Womb
If you are a baby born in the USA, then on the day after you are born, you are considered to be one day old. The nine months that you spent inside your mommy’s tummy are not considered part of your age.
In Korea, on the day of your birth, you are considered to be one year old; the time you spent in the womb counts as the first year of your life (despite it only being nine months). Because of this, your Korean age is always at least one year higher than your international age.
What is my Korean age?
There are three simple ways to figure out your Korean age. Pick whichever one you like the best:
1. Use the Korean Age Calculator
This method is super easy, just scroll down to “Korean Age Calculator” and input your birth year.
2. Use the “Korean Age +1 Formula”
(Current year – Year of Birth) + 1 = Korean Age
If you were born in 1995, and the year is 2019:
(2019 – 1995) + 1 = 25 years old (Korean age)
3. Use the “Korean Age Birthday Formula”
Birthday has passed this year: Your Age + 1 = Korean Age
Birthday has not passed this year: Your Age + 2 = Korean Age
If you are 25 and your birthday has passed:
25 + 1 = 26 years old (Korean age)
If you are 25 and your birthday has not passed this year:
25 + 2 = 27 years old (Korean age)
This means that your Korean age will be 1 or 2 years more than your international age.
Korean Age Calculator
Use this simple tool to get your Korean age. Just enter your birth year, and it will give you your Korean age.
How to Say Your Age in Korean
You can say your Korean age by using this sentence.
저는 스물살입니다 (jeoneun seu-mul-sal-im-ni-da).
This means “I am 20 years old”. You can substitute your age by using the chart below.
|한 살||han sal||1 year old|
|두 살||du sal||2 years old|
|세 살||se sal||3 years old|
|네 살||ne sal||4 years old|
|다섯 살||daseot sal||5 years old|
|여섯 살||yeoseot sal||6 years old|
|일곱 살||ilgop sal||7 years old|
|여덟 살||yeodeol sal||8 years old|
|아홉 살||ahop sal||9 years old|
|열 살||yeol sal||10 years old|
|열한 살||yeolhan sal||11 years old|
|열두 살||yeoldu sal||12 years old|
|열세 살||yeolse sal||13 years old|
|열네 살||yeolle sal||14 years old|
|열다섯 살||yeoldaseot sal||15 years old|
|열여섯 살||yeollyeoseot sal||16 years old|
|열일곱 살||yeorilgop sal||17 years old|
|열여덟 살||yeollyeodeol sal||18 years old|
|열아홉 살||yeorahop sal||19 years old|
|스무 살||seumu sal||20 years old|
|스물한 살||seumulhan sal||21 years old|
|스물두 살||seumuldu sal||22 years old|
|스물세 살||seumulse sal||23 years old|
|스물네 살||seumulle sal||24 years old|
|스물다섯 살||seumuldaseot sal||25 years old|
|스물여섯 살||seumullyeoseot sal||26 years old|
|스물일곱 살||seumurilgop sal||27 years old|
|스물여덟 살||seumullyeodeol sal||28 years old|
|스물아홉 살||seumurahop sal||29 years old|
|서른 살||seoreun sal||30 years old|
|서른한 살||seoreunhan sal||31 years old|
|서른두 살||seoreundu sal||32 years old|
|서른세 살||seoreunse sal||33 years old|
|서른네 살||seoreunne sal||34 years old|
|서른다섯 살||seoreundaseot sal||35 years old|
|서른여섯 살||seoreunyeoseot sal||36 years old|
|서른일곱 살||seoreunilgop sal||37 years old|
|서른여덟 살||seoreunyeodeol sal||38 years old|
|서른아홉 살||seoreunahop sal||39 years old|
|마흔한 살||maheunhan sal||41 years old|
|마흔두 살||maheundu sal||42 years old|
|마흔세 살||maheunse sal||43 years old|
|마흔네 살||maheunne sal||44 years old|
|마흔다섯 살||maheundaseot sal||45 years old|
|마흔여섯 살||maheunyeoseot sal||46 years old|
|마흔일곱 살||maheunilgop sal||47 years old|
|마흔여덟 살||maheunyeodeol sal||48 years old|
|마흔아홉 살||maheunahop sal||49 years old|
|쉰 살||swin sal||50 years old|
|쉰한 살||swinhan sal||51 years old|
|쉰두 살||swindu sal||52 years old|
|쉰세 살||swinse sal||53 years old|
|쉰네 살||swinne sal||54 years old|
|쉰다섯 살||swindaseot sal||55 years old|
|쉰여섯 살||swinyeoseot sal||56 years old|
|쉰일곱 살||swinilgop sal||57 years old|
|쉰여덟 살||swinyeodeol sal||58 years old|
|쉰아홉 살||swinahop sal||59 years old|
|예순 살||yesun sal||60 years old|
|예순한 살||yesunhan sal||61 years old|
|예순두 살||yesundu sal||62 years old|
|예순세 살||yesunse sal||63 years old|
|예순네 살||yesunne sal||64 years old|
|예순다섯 살||yesundaseot sal||65 years old|
|예순여섯 살||yesunyeoseot sal||66 years old|
|예순일곱 살||yesunilgop sal||67 years old|
|예순여덟 살||yesunyeodeol sal||68 years old|
|예순아홉 살||yesunahop sal||69 years old|
|일흔 살||ilheun sal||70 years old|
|일흔한 살||ilheunhan sal||71 years old|
|일흔두 살||ilheundu sal||72 years old|
|일흔세 살||ilheunse sal||73 years old|
|일흔네 살||ilheunne sal||74 years old|
|일흔다섯 살||ilheundaseot sal||75 years old|
|일흔여섯 살||ilheunyeoseot sal||76 years old|
|일흔일곱 살||ilheunilgop sal||77 years old|
|일흔여덟 살||ilheunyeodeol sal||78 years old|
|일흔아홉 살||ilheunahop sal||79 years old|
|여든 살||yeodeun sal||80 years old|
|여든한 살||yeodeunhan sal||81 years old|
|여든두 살||yeodeundu sal||82 years old|
|여든세 살||yeodeunse sal||83 years old|
|여든네 살||yeodeunne sal||84 years old|
|여든다섯 살||yeodeundaseot sal||85 years old|
|여든여섯 살||yeodeunyeoseot sal||86 years old|
|여든일곱 살||yeodeunilgop sal||87 years old|
|여든여덟 살||yeodeunyeodeol sal||88 years old|
|여든아홉 살||yeodeunahop sal||89 years old|
|아흔 살||aheun sal||90 years old|
|아흔한 살||aheunhan sal||91 years old|
|아흔두 살||aheundu sal||92 years old|
|아흔세 살||aheunse sal||93 years old|
|아흔네 살||aheunne sal||94 years old|
|아흔다섯 살||aheundaseot sal||95 years old|
|아흔여섯 살||aheunyeoseot sal||96 years old|
|아흔일곱 살||aheunilgop sal||97 years old|
|아흔여덟 살||aheunyeodeol sal||98 years old|
|아흔아홉 살||aheunahop sal||99 years old|
|백 살||baek sal||100 years old|
|백한 살||baekan sal||101 years old|
|백두 살||baekdu sal||102 years old|
|백세 살||baekse sal||103 years old|
|백네 살||baengne sal||104 years old|
|백다섯 살||baekdaseot sal||105 years old|
|백여섯 살||baengnyeoseot sal||106 years old|
|백일곱 살||baegilgop sal||107 years old|
|백여덟 살||baengnyeodeol sal||108 years old|
|백아홉 살||baegahop sal||109 years old|
|백열 살||baengnyeol sal||110 years old|
|백열한 살||baengnyeolhan sal||111 years old|
You can also ask someone’s Korean age:
나이가 어떻게 되세요? (na-i-ga eo-tteo-ke doe-se-yo?)
How old are you?
You may hear people ask you for your birthdate. That means you’ll tell them your birth year, birth month, and birth date (in that order). For example:
생년월일이 어떻게 됩니까? (saengnyeonworiri eotteoke doemnikka?)
What’s your date of birth?
If you were born on Jan 15, 1995, you can say:
1995년1월15일 (1995nyeon 1wol 15il)
This is a very common question if you go somewhere where you’ll need to be registered, such as at the dentist. They use the year you were born plus your birth month and day to look you up in their systems.
Korean Age Words
Obviously, there is a large chance of confusion when non-Koreans talk about age with Koreans. The way that most Koreans avoid confusion is to use the terms ‘Korean age’ and ‘international age’ when talking about age.
한국나이 (Hanguk nai) – Korean Age
만 나이 (man nai) – international age
저는 올해 스물 살이지만 만으로는 열아홉 살이에요.
(jeoneun olhae seumul salijiman maneuro yeolahop salieyo.)
I’m twenty in Korean age but nineteen in Western age.
Other Korean Age Terms
You may also hear these terms when people are talking about international age. They all mean the same as ‘만 나이’.
국제나이 (gukje nai) – international age
미국나이 (miguk nai) – American age
외국나이 (oeguk nai) – foreign age
When is international age used in Korea?
As a general rule, Korean age is used for social interactions with people, whereas international age is used for more official things. For example, the age limits written on alcohol, cigarettes, movie posters, and so on are based on international age. The legal age for most things in Korea is 19. This means international age ‘19’.
Why is Korean Age Different?
Korean age is different than international age because when a baby is born, the baby is automatically one year old. Koreans count a baby’s time in the womb as one year.
Also, Koreans automatically add a year to their age as soon as January 1st arrives. So that means that your Korean age may be 1 or 2 years more than your international age.
When Do Koreans Celebrate their Birthdays?
Everybody in Korea shares the same birthday: January 1st. However, that’s not when they celebrate their actual birthday.
Everybody has their own birthday, complete with cake and candles. Koreans celebrate their birthday on the day they were born. But on your birthday in Korea, you are not considered to be one year older than the day before.
Instead, Koreans all age on the same day. January 1st. No matter when your birthday is, if you were 40 years old on December 31st, then on January 1st, you will be 41. Korean age works as if everybody was born on January 1st.
Wow, we are the same age!
As age determines a complete host of social interactions in Korea, being of the same age as somebody can make everybody feel more comfortable. If somebody that you have just met finds out that you are the same age as them, they will often be excited. This is because if you and your friend are the same age in Korea, neither person will have any of the social obligations that come from being a different age from each other.
Being the same age as another person has a special word in Korean: 동갑 (donggap). You will often hear the expression 우리는 동갑이다 (urineun donggapida) which means ‘we are the same age’. As the Korean age system is based on year of birth, rather than your birthday, you will always be the same age as this new friend. Even if your birthday is the very next day!
Now that you know the difference between Korean age and international age, calculate your Korean age. But don’t be upset that you have suddenly become two years older. Age is just a number, after all.