How on Earth Does Korean Age Work?

Nam InHan

In South Korea, babies born on December 31 will turn two years old on January 1st of the following year. It’s almost magical that they turn two in after just one day. Hence, many exchange students are curious about the ‘Korean age’ system. In this article, I will introduce the Korean age culture and the “Zodiac” system.남인한 1.jpg

There are two main methods of counting age in Korea. Of course, Korea also uses the full age system that is used in other countries. The full age system, however, is usually applied only on legal matters. The age Koreans usually use is one to two years older than the full age. The reason is that in Korea, babies are born as one-year-olds and then age on their birthdays. However, in Korea, January 1st is often more important than one’s birthday. Some argues that such a complicated system needs to be sorted out. Although many East Asian culture used to use this system, many have stopped. So, it causes confusion only in South Korea and entails many social hindrances. The funny thing is that even North Korea doesn’t use this age.

The Zodiac system is similar to the Horoscope. But the Zodiac system depends on the year of birth, not the date of birth. It is used not only in Korea, but also in many countries in East Asia such as China, Vietnam, Thailand, and Japan. There are 12 kinds of animal (Mouse-Cow-Tiger-Rabbit-Dragon-Snake-Horse-Sheep-Monkey-Rooster-Dog-Pig) in sequence and each has its own meaning such as honesty, wealth, or hope. 1997 is the Year of Cow. 1998 is the Year of Tiger. 1999 is the Year of Rabbit.

남인한 2.jpgLet me know which animal represents you!

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