When meeting someone in Korea for the first time, you may be surprised to hear that the first thing they ask you is your age. They aren’t being rude; this is normally just so they can gage which politeness level to use with you.
But did you know that you could be up to two years older in Korea, and you do not get any older on the day of your birthday?! This is due to the very confusing Korean age system.
In Korea, when a baby is born, they are classed as 1 year old from the very first day on the planet, and on New Year’s Day (either the solar or lunar New Year depending on personal preference), everyone adds another year to their age. Therefore, if a baby is born on New Year’s Eve, they are classed as 2 years old already on the second day of their life!
Let’s say a person that celebrates the Solar New Year is born on the last day of December. On that day, the person is already 1-year old, and on the first day of January, they become 2 years old. The following year on January 1st, they are now 3 years old, whereas, in international age, they are only 1 year old.
A more simple way to remember this is in any year, before your birthday, you will be 2 years older in Korean age than in your full-age, and after your birthday, you are only 1 year older in Korean age.