Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Korean Age

I was born on November 12, 1986. I'm 25 years old but in Korea, I'm 27. Ugh, it's terrible.

Here's the low down on how I magically lost two years just from landing on this peninsula.

When you are born in Korea, you are one year old. When you are one day old, you are one year old. Then, the following January, you are two years old. From then on, your age changes every January, NOT the day you were born.

This offered a lot of confusion between me and my students at first. Whenever a kid told me it was their birthday, I would ask, "Ohhhh, how old are you now?" with a big expectant smile. American kids love when they get a year older and say their new age with pride and a grin. But Korean kids would just look at me like, "What? Why are you asking me that?" and then go on to say the age they had since January, leaving us both confused.

birthday party at our school
Using me as an example, I was born on November 12, 1986 and on that day I was one year old in Korean age. Then on January 1, 1987, I turned two years old, in Korean age. When my birthday rolled around in November of 1987, I was still two years old in Korean age (even though I was just turning one!). Then in January of 1988 (just a month and a half after my first birthday), I turned three years old Korean age.

When kids start kindergarten at our school, they are either five or six years old, in Korean age. I have a five year old class that I teach every day and they are so cute, very active, and tiny. The school year starts in March and so if their birthday is early in the year, they could be four years old but most of them are probably still three (western age).

Here's some videos of them speaking English after learning English for about a month.



How old do you think they are?







8 comments:

  1. Ahh, yes. The korean age. Sometimes it can be an advantage, say when you meet someone younger. Now all of a sudden I become the "unni." :) but, I still don't like the fact the it speeds up my age so to say. I just turned 26 so all my korean friends are like, "oh your almost 30. When are you going to have kids, get married"..blah blah blah. *sigh* ;P

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    1. Ahh, yes, babies! When my students first found out that Spencer and I were married the first thing they asked is, "Where's your baby??"

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  2. Oh gosh, that means I've already hit the big 30! :(

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    1. Don't worry! You're not in Korea, so you're good. :)

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  3. Eurgh, KOREAN AGE! I've asked about it and been told that, "well you're carried as a baby for 10 months". When I say that, no, it's nine...I get told, "Well that's close enough to a year."

    You can't just round up someone's age to one year when they're not even born yet?! SIGH.

    I'm 25 western age and, I think....26 or 27 Korean age? I have no idea. I still can't grasp it and I've lived here since 2009...

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    1. It really doesn't make sense at all! ...and I hate saying I'm older than I really am.

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  4. yeaa we count age differently than many other cultures. we make you older..XD

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