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Koreans count their age in a different way from Western people.

What are the exact rules to count your Korean age? Is it just Western age + 2?

A person born on Feb. 10, 1986 is 30 years old in Europe.

In Korea, is this person considered to be 32 years old?

  • 2
    Why the vote close? I think this is a valid on-topic (korean culture) question. – yeouuu Jun 22 '16 at 11:59
  • its not necessarily a "language" question, i also think it should be allowed but that might be where the confusion lies – choicehoney Jun 22 '16 at 12:20
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    @너구리 Language and culture are closely-related. Many Korean learners find this topic interesting. – user7 Jun 22 '16 at 12:32
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    Is korean stackexchange only about the language? I assumed it was about culture as well.. – yeouuu Jun 22 '16 at 12:41
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    Voted to keep this open for two reasons. 1: As @Rathony says, language and culture are closely related. 2: This is something that most Korean learners will encounter at some point and is certainly useful. – user12 Jun 22 '16 at 12:45
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The traditional way of counting age is like this:

  • You are 1 years old (한 살) when you're born.
  • You gain a year on January 1st.

So technically, a baby born in December will become 두 살 - two years old - on January 1st. However, for children that young, they normally count their age by days, weeks or months (just like in English).

Also, sometimes age of babies can be expressed using the word "돌". This normally means the first birthday of the child (e.g. 돌잔치 - first birthday celebration), but can also be used to say the baby is (about) 1 year old (in the Western sense). So for a 12-month-old baby you can say:

그는 벌써 한 돌 됐어요.

It can even be used for an older child, though normally just babies:

우리 아이는 이제 겨우 두 돌이 넘었다 (Our baby is now barely 2 years old)

(The last example is taken from the 표준국어대사전).

Also, more and more Western age is used. This is expressed with the phrase 만 X세. So 만 6세 means 6 in the Western sense. This is often used with regulations related to children. There's even a calculator that helps you calculate "만 나이".

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Koreans consider newborns to be one year of age. So, anyone born in 2016 would be one year old. Furthermore, everyone turns a year older every New Year's day.

In the event that a baby is born on December 31st, 2016, he or she would be two years old on January 1st, 2017. So, as for your example, that person born in 1986 would currently be 31 years old.

Thus, the equation to calculating one's Korean age is simple: current year - year born + 1

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Others already wrote good answers. I will just add two more equations to help calculating Korean age from international age.

Your Korean age is: (1) if your birthday has been passed, your international age + 1; (2) if your birthday has not been passed yet, your international age + 2.

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Adding to the other good answers, for me the easiest formula, in one sentence, is:

Your age at the end of the year + 1

Most people can very quickly know how old they will be at the end of the year (i.e. after your birthday).

  • I wonder if the last sentence if accurate. Although it may be helpful for westerners, this logic is certainly not the case in Korea, where it's more about cohort mentality than anything else. – Dima Tisnek Nov 1 '16 at 14:20

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