This Korean age calculator is the right place for you if you've ever found yourself wondering, "What is my Korean age?". Use it to learn how to calculate Korean age and read up on this interesting feature of Korean culture. With the help of this tool, the question "How old am I in Korea?" will no longer be a bother to answer. If you plan to travel to Korea, there might still be some time-zone related confusion, but thanks to this calculator there won't be any confusion connected to your age!

How to use the Korean age calculator

Not sure how to use the Korean age calculator? Don't worry - just read these short instructions.

  • Start by picking what you want your calculations to be based on. There are two conventional ways of calculating your Korean age, and the equations vary depending on which one you choose.

  • If you picked your year of birth:

    Input the current year.

    Input the year you were born.

  • If you picked your current age:

    State whether you've already had your birthday this year. You will learn why this is important in the following paragraphs.

    Input your current age.

The Korean calculator will use the information to figure out how old you are in the Korean system.

How to calculate Korean age?

But how does this even work? While it may seem complicated at first, don't worry - it's no Birthday Paradox. In fact, it's even simpler than calculating a dog's age.

The basic Korean age formula based on the current year is: Korean age = (current year - year of birth) + 1

If you'd rather calculate your Korean age based on your current "Western" age, the formula changes depending on whether your birthday has already passed or not. The formulas are:

  • if your birthday has passed: Korean age = your age + 1
  • if your birthday has not passed: Korean age = your age + 2

These may be counterintuitive for Westerners, especially the calculations based on age. Actually, the idea behind this system is not that complicated. There are two main differences between the Korean age system and the Western age system:

  1. In Korea, you are already one year old when you are born. The prenatal period is rounded up to a year and counted as a year of life, as opposed to the West, where you, so to speak, start from zero.
  2. In Korea, you "age" a year every New Year rather than on your birthday. Regardless of whether your birthday has passed or not, in Korea you add a year to your age every January 1ˢᵗ. That's why, before your birthday in a given year, you add two years to your Western-system age. Of course, birthdays are still important, and Koreans are no less impatient when counting down to them than Westerners are - they simply don't consider them stepping points in aging.

Calculating Korean age - example

Let's go through a quick example of both kinds of calculations so that the question "What is my Korean age?" never sounds complicated again.

Let's say someone was born in the year 1993, and the current year is 2019. In that case, the basic way of calculating their Korean age would look like this: Korean age = (2019 - 1993) + 1 = 27. In the Western system, someone born in 1993 will be 26 years old in 2019. If their birthday has passed by the time they are calculating their Korean age, that means they are 26 + 1 = 27 years old. If this year's birthday is still ahead of them, they would still be 27 years old in Korea, but the calculation would be 25 + 2 = 27 until their birthday.

Let's look at a real-world example. If you're a fan of Korean culture, you might be curious to find out how old is Jungkook. He was born on 1ˢᵗ September, 1997. In the western system, he celebrates his 22ⁿᵈ birthday in 2019. Jungkook, however, would tell you that he is 23 years old: 21 + 2 before September 1ˢᵗ and 22 + 1 after.

Here's one more striking example of the differences between Western age and Korean age. If a child is born on December 31ˢᵗ, the next day Westerners would say the child is a day old. In Korean age, however, you would say that this 1-day-old baby is two years old. That is because:

  • the baby is born as a 1-year-old, and
  • on January 1ˢᵗ, everyone gains one year.

Why is age important for Koreans?

When you meet someone for the first time in Korea, one of the first questions you hear will probably be "How old are you?." That is because in the Korean language, the way you address your interlocutor depends on their age. This applies even in totally informal situations and close relationships. For example, if your friend is older than you, you would call them your 누나 - noona or 언니 - eonni, and if they are younger, you refer to them as your 동생 - dongsaeng.

To avoid confusion, when talking with people from other countries, many Koreans ask for their "international age" and make the calculations themselves.

Interestingly, while Korean age is the one Koreans usually refer to in conversations, the legal age limits for such things as drinking, smoking, driving, etc. are expressed in the international age system.

Korean age calculator: Korean flag

Maria Kluziak