Should South Korea Say Goodbye To Its “Korean Age” System?

How old are you? Depending on which country you’re in, the answer might be different, & while South Korean civil law has counted age from a person’s date of birth since 1962, the continuing presence of the system commonly referred to as “Korean age” often leads to confusion, & many are now asking if the system should go away entirely. Korea FM‘s Chance Dorland spoke with Korean Studies professors Ingyu Oh & Michael Hurt to learn how “Korean age” is calculated & the arguments being made to keep, or remove, the system.

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 Interview answers, both in written & audio form, have been edited for length & clarity.

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One comment

  1. I do not find Korean age system confusing at all. Perhaps I had a good Korean teacher. Paraphrasing and summarizing her blog about Korean age: the year you were born is the first calendar year of your life. The second calendar year is your second calendar since you were born. That is what their age system indicates. We of the western culture translate Korean age as “1 year old, 2 years old. etc.” but that translation is simply due to our own arrogance and ignorance. We count how many days we’ve been alive while Koreans count how many calendar years they’ve seen since they were born. To me, western system is more complicated. You have to count how many years, months and dates you’ve been breathing! We all are confused when faced with the idea we are not familiar with. That does not mean we can see them as confusing and unnecessary. It’s their culture and should be respected.

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