Have you ever asked a Korean friend for his or her age? If yes, then you would know the struggle of being presented with a complex Math problem in your friend’s next reply; the ever-so complex problem of calculating a person’s Korean Age.


Somehow, Koreans calculate their age differently from the rest of the world. I may be 20 years old in the United States but if I am Korean, I may be 20 AND 22 at the same time.

To calculate your Korean Age, we need to assume that you were 1 year old the moment you were born. Once you cross January 1st the next year, you become 2 years old.

Since there are different ways to calculate a person’s age, South Koreans have to figure out which age system to use for which legal process. Sometimes, confusion may even arise among “friends” and one may end up “disrespecting” another if age isn’t calculated correctly (Korean culture puts older or more senior people in high respect).

The existence of both age systems has caused “persistent confusion” in society, so the current president of South Korea, Yoon Suk Yeol, is pushing for the abolishment of the “Korean Age”

Current president of South Korea, Yoon Suk Yeol
Current president of South Korea (Photo by 우리 모두 부자 되어요 ~ under CC BY)

If successful, this will bring South Korea in line with the rest of the world and reduce “unnecessary social and economic costs”. And when that happens, South Koreans will probably celebrate because everyone will be a couple of years younger too.

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