Korean Age – Calculator and Explanation of the System

Last Updated on October 17, 2022 by 90 Day Korean
Birthday Cake with a number 1 candle

Korean age is different than the age used in most countries. The whole concept of age is deeply embedded in the Korean language and Korean culture.

We’ll fill you in on what you need to know about age in Korea. We’ll also show you how to calculate your own Korean age. You can choose our easy formula or our Korean age calculator.

Let’s get to it!

Birthday Cake with a number 1 candle

Do you want a downloadable guide for this topic? We have a free PDF resource for you here:

What is Korean Age?

Korean age is a way that Koreans calculate their age. It is always one or two years more than your international age. Koreans consider a year in the womb as counting towards their age, so every one is one year old at birth. Everyone gets one year added to their Korean age on New Year’s Day. South Korea is also the only country that practices this.

Korean Age

How does the Korean age system work?

Here’s an easy way to think about it. Your Korean age will always be at least one year older than your international age. That’s because the Korean age adds one year because of the time you spent in the womb before being born (approximately one year).

Your Korean age will change on New Year’s Day, not on your birthday. People in Korea still celebrate their birthdays on the day they were born and count their actual age. However, it doesn’t affect their Korean age as it changes on January 1st.

For example, if you were born on April 1st, you would still celebrate your birthday on April 1st. The international age will change for you and not the Korean age since the Korean age wouldn’t change until January 1st. Korean age isn’t calculated based on your birthday.

If you’re curious about your Korean age, there is a Korean age calculator below that you can use. We also recommend you try the formulas we provide before using the Korean age calculator—more on that in a bit.

Korean Age Calculator

Enter your birth year below, and the Korean age calculator will show you your age in Korea.

Enter Your Birth Year:
Your Korean age is years old.

The Korean age calculator above will use the Korean age formula and automatically calculate your Korean age.

Why is Korean Age Important?

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.

People use different language when speaking to people of different ages. 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 (nuna) or  언니 (eonni), if they are younger, they will be your 동생 (dongsaeng).

With all this importance on age, answering the question “How old are you?” is very important. But the answer depends on the meaning of the question.

Why is the Korean Age System Different?

Korean age is different from international age (or Western age) because of two reasons. First, you are automatically one year old at birth. Second, you age another year because of the turn of the calendar year. Your date of birth doesn’t affect your Korean age.

In contrast, if you are a baby born in the USA, then you are considered to be one day old on the day after you are born. The nine months that you spent inside your mommy’s tummy are not considered part of your age. Your age increases by one each time your date of birth passes.

In Korea, on the day of your birth, you are considered 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 or Western age. Then the change of the year on January 1st automatically advances a person’s Korean age by one. You can read more about Korean months here.

What’s my Korean age?

If you’re asking yourself, “how old am I in Korean age” there are three simple ways to get the answer. One of the easiest and simplest ways of knowing your age in Korea is to add one year to the current year and then subtract your year of birth. This method will make you one year older than your Western age.

For example, if the current year is 2021 and the year you were born is 1992, you’ll add one year to the current year (2021 + 1) and subtract your year of birth. This is (2021 + 1) – 1992 = 30.

Another method of knowing your age in  Korea or using the Korean system is by adding one year to your Western age if your birthday has passed upon calculation and adding two years if your birthday hasn’t passed yet. And lastly, use the Korean age calculator.

Pick whichever one you like the best among these. We recommend using the Korean age calculator last. Let’s take a look at the examples of each method below.

1. 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)

2. 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 one or two years more than your Western age.

3. Use the Korean Age Calculator

Using the online Korean Age Calculator is super easy; just input your birth year. We recommend using the formulas above first, and then check your answer by using the Korean age calculator after.

Enter Your Birth Year:
Your Korean age is years old.

If you want to get a solid understanding of age in Korea, then you could try to calculate Korean age using the formulas, like celebrities or people you know. Then you can use the online Korean age calculator to check if you’re correct.

Keep in mind that the Korean age calculator uses today’s date. If you want to calculate a Korean age on a different date, use formulas 1 and 2.

Now that you know how to calculate Korean age let’s look at some examples.

Korean Age Example

Let’s take a look at a comparison between using the international age system and the Korean age system. In this example, your birthday is September 21st, 1997.

  • International age:
    • On January 1st, 2021, your international age is 23.
    • On September 21st, 2021, your international age is 24.
    • On January 1st, 2022, your international age is 24.
  • Korean age:
    • On January 1st, 2021, your Korean age is 25
    • On September 21st, 2021, your Korean age is 25
    • On January 1st, 2022, your Korean age is 26

BTS’ Jungkook Age

Let’s discover how old Jungkook is based on both his Korean and international. Jeon Jung-kook is a South Korean singer and performer and is the youngest member of the BTS members, a popular South Korean boy band in South Korea and globally.

Jeon Jung-kook was born on September 1, 1997.

How old is Jungkook?

Now that we know when Jungkook’s birthday is, here’s how to identify his international and Korean age.

  • International age system:
    • On September 1, 2021, his international age is 24 years old.
    • On January 1, 2022, his international age is 24 years old.
    • On September 1, 2022, his international age is 25.
  • Korean age system:
    • On September 1, 2021, Jungkook’s age is 25 years old.
    • On January 1, 2022, Jungkook’s age is 26 years old.
    • On September 1, 2022, Jungkook’s age is 26 years old

BTS Members Age

If you have already familiarized how to determine your Korean age, then a bit more practice won’t hurt! Here are the birthdays of the rest of the BTS members that you can use for practicing how to know someone’s Korean age.

  • Kim Namjoon – September 12, 1994
  • Min Yoongi – March 9, 1993
  • Jung Hoseok – February 18, 1994
  • Kim Taehyung – December 30, 1995
  • Park Jimin – October 13, 1995
  • Kim Seokjin – December 4, 1992

How to Say Your Age in Korean

Knowing how to say your Korean age in the Korean language is really useful to know when learning how to speak Korean. It’s for sure to come up in conversation. You can say your Korean age by using this sentence. The online  Korean age calculator and formulas above will help you get the correct Korean age to use.

Example:

저는 스무 살입니다 (jeoneun seumu sarimnida).

This means I am 20 years old. You can substitute your age by using the chart below. If you don’t know how Korean numbers work, then check out this resource.

KoreanRomanizationEnglish
han sal1 year old
du sal2 years old
se sal3 years old
ne sal4 years old
daseot sal5 years old
yeoseot sal6 years old
ilgop sal7 years old
yeodeol sal8 years old
ahop sal9 years old
yeol sal10 years old
yeolhan sal11 years old
yeoldu sal12 years old
yeolse sal13 years old
yeolle sal14 years old
yeoldaseot sal15 years old
yeollyeoseot sal16 years old
yeorilgop sal17 years old
yeollyeodeol sal18 years old
yeorahop sal19 years old
seumu sal20 years old
seumulhan sal21 years old
seumuldu sal22 years old
seumulse sal23 years old
seumulle sal24 years old
seumuldaseot sal25 years old
seumullyeoseot sal26 years old
seumurilgop sal27 years old
seumullyeodeol sal28 years old
seumurahop sal29 years old
seoreun sal30 years old
seoreunhan sal31 years old
seoreundu sal32 years old
seoreunse sal33 years old
seoreunne sal34 years old
seoreundaseot sal35 years old
seoreunyeoseot sal36 years old
seoreunilgop sal37 years old
seoreunyeodeol sal38 years old
seoreunahop sal39 years old
maheun sal40 years old
maheunhan sal41 years old
maheundu sal42 years old
maheunse sal43 years old
maheunne sal44 years old
maheundaseot sal45 years old
maheunyeoseot sal46 years old
maheunilgop sal47 years old
maheunyeodeol sal48 years old
maheunahop sal49 years old
swin sal50 years old
swinhan sal51 years old
swindu sal52 years old
swinse sal53 years old
swinne sal54 years old
swindaseot sal55 years old
swinyeoseot sal56 years old
swinilgop sal57 years old
swinyeodeol sal58 years old
swinahop sal59 years old
yesun sal60 years old
yesunhan sal61 years old
yesundu sal62 years old
yesunse sal63 years old
yesunne sal64 years old
yesundaseot sal65 years old
yesunyeoseot sal66 years old
yesunilgop sal67 years old
yesunyeodeol sal68 years old
yesunahop sal69 years old
ilheun sal70 years old
ilheunhan sal71 years old
ilheundu sal72 years old
ilheunse sal73 years old
ilheunne sal74 years old
ilheundaseot sal75 years old
ilheunyeoseot sal76 years old
ilheunilgop sal77 years old
ilheunyeodeol sal78 years old
ilheunahop sal79 years old
yeodeun sal80 years old
yeodeunhan sal81 years old
yeodeundu sal82 years old
yeodeunse sal83 years old
yeodeunne sal84 years old
yeodeundaseot sal85 years old
yeodeunyeoseot sal86 years old
yeodeunilgop sal87 years old
yeodeunyeodeol sal88 years old
yeodeunahop sal89 years old
aheun sal90 years old
aheunhan sal91 years old
aheundu sal92 years old
aheunse sal93 years old
aheunne sal94 years old
aheundaseot sal95 years old
aheunyeoseot sal96 years old
aheunilgop sal97 years old
aheunyeodeol sal98 years old
aheunahop sal99 years old
baek sal100 years old
baekan sal101 years old
baekdu sal102 years old
baekse sal103 years old
baengne sal104 years old
baekdaseot sal105 years old
baengnyeoseot sal106 years old
baegilgop sal107 years old
baengnyeodeol sal108 years old
baegahop sal109 years old
baengnyeol sal110 years old
baengnyeolhan sal111 years old

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How to Ask Someone’s Korean Age

There are two different ways to ask for a person’s Korean age.

“How old are you” in Korean

The first way is to directly use the sentence “how old are you.” Here’s how you can say it in Korean:

나이가 어떻게 되세요? (naiga eotteoke doeseyo?)

How old are you?

The example above is the standard way of asking this question. However, there are more ways to say this, which will be further discussed below.

“What’s your date of birth” in Korean

You may hear people ask you for your birthdate. That means you’ll tell them your birth year, birth month, and birthdate (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:

1995년 1월 15일 (천구백구십오 년 일 월 십오 일 | cheongubaekgusibo nyeon il wol sibo il)

This is a very common question if you go somewhere where you’ll need to be registered, such as at the dentist or doctor’s office. They use the year you were born plus your birth month and day to look you up in their systems.

“Age” in Korean

There are three words that can be used to say “age” in Korean. If you are speaking to somebody who is a lot older than you, or if you are in a formal setting, then you should use the word 연세 (yeonse).

If you are speaking to somebody younger than you or of a similar age, you can use the words 나이 (nai) or 살 (sal).

살 (sal) translates as something closer to “years old” rather than age. If you want to say “years old” when talking about someone a lot older than you, then you should say 세 (se) instead of 살 (sal).

Somewhat ironically, to ask somebody their age in Korean, you have to guess how old they are to allow you to use the correct level of politeness.

There is a big 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.

한국 나이 (Hanguk nai) – Korean Age

만 나이 (man nai) – international age

Example sentence:

저는 올해 스무 살이지만 만으로는 열아홉 살이에요.

(jeoneun olhae seumu sarijiman maneuroneun yeorahop sarieyo.)

I’m twenty in Korean age but nineteen in Western age.

These are some common Korean words that you’ll hear. You may notice them if you live in Korea and know how to read Hangeul.

Other Korean Age Terms

You may also hear these terms when people are talking about the international age. They all mean the same as “만 나이 (man nai).”

국제 나이 (gukje nai) – international age

미국 나이 (miguk nai) – American age

외국 나이 (oeguk nai) – foreign age

How to Say “How Old Are You” in Korean

There are different ways to say “how old are you” in Korean, depending on who you are speaking with. We’ve listed them below.

Formal “How Old Are You” in Korean

Here is how you can ask “How old are you” in Korean formally.

1. 연세가 어떻게 되십니까? (yeonsega eotteoke doeshimnikka)

If you are in a formal situation such as a presentation or interview, then you can use the above expression to ask how old somebody is.

Example:

A: 연세가 어떻게 되십니까? (yeonsega eotteoke doesimnikka)

How old are you?

B: 마흔다섯 살입니다. (maheundaseot sarimnida)

I am 45 years old.

Standard “How Old Are You” in Korean

There are several ways to ask this question in Korean. Here are some of them.

1. 연세가 어떻게 되세요? (yeonsega eotteoke doeseyo)

This is usually used when speaking to somebody older than you.

2. 나이가 어떻게 되세요? (naiga eotteoke doeseyo)

If you are speaking to somebody of a similar age, then you can say this to ask, “How old are you” in Korean.

3. 몇 살이에요? (myeot sarieyo)

This is another way to ask when talking to someone of the same age, although 몇 살이에요 (myeot sarieyo) sounds a bit less formal than 나이가 어떻게 되세요 (naiga eotteoke doeseyo)?

Example:

A: 나이가 어떻게 되세요? (naiga eotteoke doeseyo)

How old are you?

B: 스무 살이에요. (seumu sarieyo)

I’m 20 years old.

Informal “How Old Are You” in Korean

Below is how you can ask someone about their age in an informal way. However, if you ask somebody their age, you are probably not close enough to them to get away with using informal language.

1. 몇 살이야? (myeot sariya)

It is best to play it safe and say 몇 살이에요 (myeot sarieyo)? instead of 몇 살이야 (myeot sariya)?

To learn more about the question word used for these sentences, you can read our article on “How” in Korean.

When is the international age used in Korea?

Generally, the Korean age is used for social interactions with people, whereas the international age is used for more official things. For example, the legal age in Korea that is written on alcohol, cigarettes, movie posters, and so on is based on the international age.

For most things, the minimum age or legal age in South Korea is 19. This means an international age of 18.

The legal drinking age in South Korea is 20 years old (Korean age). This means you must have an international age of at least 19 years old to legally drink alcoholic beverages in South Korea.

Underage drinking is controlled in South Korea by establishments doing ID checks. This prevents the selling of alcoholic beverages to people below the legal drinking age. The underage drinking law in South Korea remains to be not as strictly enforced as they are in some other countries.

Military conscription age in Korea

One of the duties of male Koreans is to render service in the military for about 2 years. According to Korean law, all men aged 19 years old to 28  years old must perform military service.

When Do Koreans Celebrate their Birthdays?

Everybody in South Korea shares the same birthday: January 1st or New Year’s Day.  However, that’s not when they celebrate their actual birthday.

Birthday cake with lit candles on a table

Everybody has their own birthday, complete with cake and candles. Koreans celebrate their birthday on the day they were born, just like how the international age system works. But on your birthday in Korea, you are not considered 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.

Video: Korean birthday celebrations

Here’s a video explanation of when Koreans celebrate their birthdays.

When do Koreans celebrate their birthdays?

If you learned something from this video, you can also subscribe to our YouTube Channel for other helpful videos!

Wow, we are the same age!

As age determines a complete host of social interactions in Korea, being of the same age 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 donggabida), which means “we are the same age.”

As the Korean age system is based on the 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!

Wrap up

Now you know the difference between the Korean age and the international age and how to use the Korean age calculator! This is an important aspect of Korean culture, so don’t be upset that you have suddenly become two years older. After all, age is just a number!

Other interesting questions that you might be asked when meeting new people are about your zodiac sign or blood type. Make sure to visit our articles about them, too, so you’d be prepared to answer them all!

If you liked this article and want to learn Korean, head over here for more great resources:

  1. The how-to guide for learning the language: https://www.90daykorean.com/learn-korean/
  2. Korean Phrase List: https://www.90daykorean.com/korean-phrases/
  3. Korean Grammar Guide: https://www.90daykorean.com/korean-grammar/
  4. Korean Sentence Structure: https://www.90daykorean.com/korean-sentence-structure/
  5. Why Learn Korean?: https://www.90daykorean.com/why-learn-korean/

 

    295 replies to "Korean Age – Calculator and Explanation of the System"

    • Avatar for aliah salas aliah salas

      My Birthday is August 06, 1997. How old am I in Korea?

    • Avatar for Lia Lia

      Hello! I was born on February 11, 2001! How old am I in Korea?

      Also, I’m confused. Why is it, that if I’ve already had my birthday this year, I only add one year to my age; but if I haven’t yet, I add two? Does that make people who are technically younger than me (month-wise) older than me in Korean age? Why, and how, does that work?

      Thank you! This article is great btw! Really informative, but still a bit confusing to those who can’t easily grasp the concept (a.k.a. me. Haha!)

      • Avatar for 90 Day Korean 90 Day Korean

        Hi, Lia! You are 19 years old in Korea if you were born in 2001 no matter when your birthday is. It would be easy to understand that birth month doesn’t really matter in Korea, and people age at the same time when the new year starts. ^^

    • Avatar for Maddie Maddie

      Hey, my birthday is May 13th 2002. My mates birthday is January 29th 2002. My other mate is February 20th 2002. How old are we?

    • Avatar for Amanda Pang Amanda Pang

      Coming of age ceremony? Is the Korean age 20? And when would it be my coming of age in Korea if I was born 11th December 2000? Need to know for a fanfiction I am writing.

      • Avatar for 90 Day Korean 90 Day Korean

        Hi Amanda! Korean age 20 is considered the legal age of an adult. You would be 20 years old in Korea. ^^

    • Avatar for Lyndsey Lyndsey

      My Birthday is January 28th 1994. How old am I?

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