Enter Your Birth Year Below:
However, when you give them your answer, you may see them nodding their head and stating a number that is higher than your actual age, or they may inform you that you are actually older in Korean age. Why is Korean age different? This is due to the different Korean age system, which is different from the international age. So if you see any K-Pop star saying their age in Korean, you should know their international age is different.
You’ll learn more about how to work out Korean age in this article.
If you meet Koreans for the first time, they’ll ask your name and your age first.
Being able to talk about your age in Korean is very important in Korean culture.
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This is a must-have guide for absolute beginners.
1) In Korea, you are born one (1) years of age.
While Westerners consider newborn babies to be ‘zero’ years old upon birth, native Koreans actually calculate the time babies spend in their mother’s womb as a ‘year’ (although, technically, it is 10 months, they round it up to one year), so when babies are born in Korea, they are considered to be 한 살(han sal)=”one year old”. This automatically adds one year to the age that you may be used to. So when someone in Korea tells you, for example, that they are 스무 살(seumu sal)=“twenty years old”, they may actually be 열여덟 살(yeol yeodeol sal)=”18 years old” or 열아홉 살(yeolahop sal)=”19 years old”.
2) In Korea, you increase your age count on January 1st of every year, not on your birthday.
Now, why would a native Korean add two years to their ‘Western age,’ you may wonder. This is because Koreans automatically gain a year on January 1st, regardless of whether their birthday has passed or not.
For example, let’s say a child was born on December 31st, 2010. This child is already a year old, but only two days later, although the child is only three days old, he/she will already be two years old in Korean age, because everyone gains a year when the new year begins. So their actual age in international standards, or 만 나이(man nai), would technically be ‘zero’ years old, but when the parents are asked about the age of their child, they will probably answer, “한국 나이로 두 살이에요.”(hanguk nairo du sarieyo)=”My child is two years old in Korean age.”
One thing to keep in mind is that 만(man) is a Sino Korean word which does not come from the Chinese character ‘萬’, which means “ten thousand”, but from ‘滿’, which means “full” and it’s the same as the international age.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Korean age culture, however, is only a cultural thing–in order to avoid confusion and keep up with international standards, on official documents such as a passport or a birth certificate, everyone in Korea will use their 만 나이(man nai), or international age. This means that when you see the age of Korean sports stars at the PyeongChang Olympics, it will be their international age, not their Korean age concept.
First, all you need to do is add 1 to the current year, then subtract the year of your birth, and you will get your Korean age.
If you were born in 1980 and wanted to calculate your age in 2018:
2018 + 1 - 1980 = 39 (Korean Age)
Second, if you’re not good at calculating, you can just follow this:
How old am I in South Korea? Have you wondered how old you are in Korea? Do you want to count your age in Korean?
Just find your age below and fill out the blank above. The above lines just mean ‘to be’. 살 (sal) below is a counter and it is used when you’re counting the ages of people or animals. You can download the following list here.
|2018||1 year old||한 살||han sal|
|2017||2 years old||두 살||du sal|
|2016||3 years old||세 살||se sal|
|2015||4 years old||네 살||ne sal|
|2014||5 years old||다섯 살||da-seot sal|
|2013||6 years old||여섯 살||yeo-seot sal|
|2012||7 years old||일곱 살||il-gop sal|
|2011||8 years old||여덟 살||yeo-dul sal|
|2010||9 years old||아홉 살||a-hop sal|
|2009||10 years old||열 살||yeol sal|
|2008||11 years old||열한 살||yeol-han sal|
|2007||12 years old||열두 살||yeol-du sal|
|2006||13 years old||열세 살||yeol-se sal|
|2005||14 years old||열네 살||yeol-ne sal|
|2004||15 years old||열다섯 살||yeol-da-seot sal|
|2003||16 years old||열여섯 살||yeol-yeo-seot sal|
|2002||17 years old||열일곱 살||yeol-il-gop sal|
|2001||18 years old||열여덟 살||yeol-yeo-dul sal|
|2000||19 years old||열아홉 살||yeol-a-hop sal|
|1999||20 years old||스무 살||seu-mu sal|
|1998||21 years old||스물한 살||seu-mul-han sal|
|1997||22 years old||스물두 살||seu-mul-du sal|
|1996||23 years old||스물세 살||seu-mul-se sal|
|1995||24 years old||스물네 살||seu-mul-ne sal|
|1994||25 years old||스물다섯 살||seu-mul-da-seot sal|
|1993||26 years old||스물여섯 살||seu-mul-yeo-seot sal|
|1992||27 years old||스물일곱 살||seu-mul-il-gop sal|
|1991||28 years old||스물여덟 살||seu-mul-yeo-dul sal|
|1990||29 years old||스물아홉 살||seu-mul-a-hop sal|
|1989||30 years old||서른 살||seo-reun sal|
|1988||31 years old||서른한 살||seo-reun-han sal|
|1987||32 years old||서른두 살||seo-reun-du sal|
|1986||33 years old||서른세 살||seo-reun-se sal|
|1985||34 years old||서른네 살||seo-reun-ne sal|
|1984||35 years old||서른다섯 살||seo-reun-da-seot sal|
|1983||36 years old||서른여섯 살||seo-reun-yeo-seot sal|
|1982||37 years old||서른일곱 살||seo-reun-il-gop sal|
|1981||38 years old||서른여덟 살||seo-reun-yeo-dul sal|
|1980||39 years old||서른아홉 살||seo-reun-a-hop sal|
|1979||40 years old||마흔 살||ma-heun sal|
|1978||41 years old||마흔한 살||ma-heun-han sal|
|1977||42 years old||마흔두 살||ma-heun-du sal|
|1976||43 years old||마흔세 살||ma-heun-se sal|
|1975||44 years old||마흔네 살||ma-heun-ne sal|
|1974||45 years old||마흔다섯 살||ma-heun-da-seot sal|
|1973||46 years old||마흔여섯 살||ma-heun-yeo-seot sal|
|1972||47 years old||마흔일곱 살||ma-heun-il-gop sal|
|1971||48 years old||마흔여덟 살||ma-heun-yeo-dul sal|
|1970||49 years old||마흔아홉 살||ma-heun-a-hop sal|
|1969||50 years old||쉰 살||swin sal|
|1968||51 years old||쉰한 살||swin-han sal|
|1967||52 years old||쉰두 살||swin-du sal|
|1966||53 years old||쉰세 살||swin-se sal|
|1965||54 years old||쉰네 살||swin-ne sal|
|1964||55 years old||쉰다섯 살||swin-da-seot sal|
|1963||56 years old||쉰여섯 살||swin-yeo-seot sal|
|1962||57 years old||쉰일곱 살||swin-il-gop sal|
|1961||58 years old||쉰여덟 살||swin-yeo-dul sal|
|1960||59 years old||쉰아홉 살||swin-a-hop sal|
|1959||60 years old||예순 살||ye-sun sal|
|1958||61 years old||예순한 살||ye-sun-han sal|
|1957||62 years old||예순두 살||ye-sun-du sal|
|1956||63 years old||예순세 살||ye-sun-se sal|
|1955||64 years old||예순네 살||ye-sun-ne sal|
|1954||65 years old||예순다섯 살||ye-sun-da-seot sal|
|1953||66 years old||예순여섯 살||ye-sun-yeo-seot sal|
|1952||67 years old||예순일곱 살||ye-sun-il-gop sal|
|1951||68 years old||예순여덟 살||ye-sun-yeo-dul sal|
|1950||69 years old||예순아홉 살||ye-sun-a-hop sal|
|1949||70 years old||일흔 살||il-heun sal|
|1948||71 years old||일흔한 살||il-heun-han sal|
|1947||72 years old||일흔두 살||il-heun-du sal|
|1946||73 years old||일흔세 살||il-heun-se sal|
|1945||74 years old||일흔네 살||il-heun-ne sal|
|1944||75 years old||일흔다섯 살||il-heun-da-seot sal|
|1943||76 years old||일흔여섯 살||il-heun-yeo-seot sal|
|1942||77 years old||일흔일곱 살||il-heun-il-gop sal|
|1941||78 years old||일흔여덟 살||il-heun-yeo-dul sal|
|1940||79 years old||일흔아홉 살||il-heun-a-hop sal|
|1939||80 years old||여든 살||yeo-deun sal|
|1938||81 years old||여든한 살||yeo-deun-han sal|
|1937||82 years old||여든두 살||yeo-deun-du sal|
|1936||83 years old||여든세 살||yeo-deun-se sal|
|1935||84 years old||여든네 살||yeo-deun-ne sal|
|1934||85 years old||여든다섯 살||yeo-deun-da-seot sal|
|1933||86 years old||여든여섯 살||yeo-deun-yeo-seot sal|
|1932||87 years old||여든일곱 살||yeo-deun-il-gop sal|
|1931||88 years old||여든여덟 살||yeo-deun-yeo-dul sal|
|1930||89 years old||여든아홉 살||yeo-deun-a-hop sal|
|1929||90 years old||아흔 살||a-heun sal|
|1928||91 years old||아흔한 살||a-heun-han sal|
|1927||92 years old||아흔두 살||a-heun-du sal|
|1926||93 years old||아흔세 살||a-heun-se sal|
|1925||94 years old||아흔네 살||a-heun-ne sal|
|1924||95 years old||아흔다섯 살||a-heun-da-seot sal|
|1923||96 years old||아흔여섯 살||a-heun-yeo-seot sal|
|1922||97 years old||아흔일곱 살||a-heun-il-gop sal|
|1921||98 years old||아흔여덟 살||a-heun-yeo-dul sal|
|1920||99 years old||아흔아홉 살||a-heun-a-hop sal|
|1919||100 years old||백 살||baek sal|
실례지만 나이가 어떻게 되세요?
Sillyejiman naiga eotteoke doeseyo?
Excuse me, but how old are you?
It’s because they want to know which politeness level of the speech they should use and age decides how you address each other.
Why are there so many non-related 오빠(oppa)s=”older brother” and 누나(nuna)s=”older sister” in Korea?
Unlike in Western cultures where you use the same level of politeness regardless of age, in Korea there are various levels of politeness. This is one of the reasons why age asking is so important to native Koreans–they need to find out the age so that they can figure out how to address one another.
If you are 동갑(donggap)=”the same age”, you will likely find yourself forming a fast friendship–as can be seen in the way Koreans count their age, people who are born in the same year are all considered to be the same age.
If you look at the hit Korean movie 동갑내기 과외하기(donggapnaegi gwawehagi)=”private tutoring someone the same age”, the heroine, who is a freshman at college, starts private tutoring the hero, who is a senior in high school but born in the same year as her. This makes their situation tricky, as they are 동갑(donggap), but she is his teacher.
Usually, you will find that your classmates are the same age as you–you are a part of the same age group with the same experiences-everyone goes to school together, and moves up in age together at the beginning of every year. It is a great ice breaker and you find yourself becoming close friends when you find out that you are the same age. This is why when you are introduced to someone else through a mutual friend, you will find native Koreans automatically checking each other’s age so that they can figure out whether they can start using informal speech, or 반말(banmal), right away.
This is a common question asked by native Koreans when asking age, as they will likely figure out how old you are in Korean age by the year you were born. So instead of answering with your actual age, you could simply reply by giving your birth year as an answer—just let them know the year you were born, or you could just cite the last two numbers of the year you were born:
Another age related expression that may throw you off is “빠른 년생 People.” We will describe why this phrase is used as it relates to the Korean education system. In Korea, the school year starts in March. This means the deadline to make it to a certain grade would be late February. ‘빠른 (ppareun) + insert year of birth’ refers to people that were born in either January or February, whose parents decided to let their children go to school with children born a year earlier.
If you were born in January, 1980, and went to school with classmates born in 1979, you would refer to yourself as 빠른 1980년생(ppareun cheongubaekpalsim-nyeonsaeng), or simply omit the first two numbers and say 빠른 80년생(ppareun palsim-nyeonsaeng). You can even say 빠른 80 (ppareun palgong). ‘Gong’ is another way to say 0 (zero) in Korean.
For example, say a child was born in February, 1999. The parents used to have two options–did they want their child to enter school as the youngest, or did they wait a year and let their child enter school as the oldest student? Depending on the decision that has been made, the child ended up going to school with friends who were born in 1998, or, those who were actually a year older than them. This means that other children born in 1999, who entered school a year later, had to refer to him/her as:
This system even confused native Korean people so it’s not been used since 2003. But those who entered elementary school before 2003 still see 빠른 년생 people. Just remember that these phrases are also used by native Koreans to refer to blood siblings, as well as non-related people who are senior to them.
Now if you ask someone their age and realize that they are younger than you, you can take the initiative and address them informally. However, in most cases, you will likely continue to use polite phrases until the recipient asks you to speak to them informally. And if you find out that someone is older than you, remember to use polite phrases and suffixes.