top of page

You CAN Turn Back Time!

alarm clock

But only if you are a native Korean, sorry! I heard an interesting story on a BBC newscast about the big change coming to Korea next year. Everyone is going to become one year (at least) younger!

It turns out, that they have been counting birthdays differently than the rest of the world for decades.

In Korea, the day you are born, you do not start out at 0 years of age, you start out at 1! They give you credit for the time served in utero (9 months) and round up to a full year.

Then, on January 1st, you are automatically one additional year older. Even if you were born on December 31, on January 1 you would be 2! This is called the "Korean Age System."

They have a separate "Counting Age" system, where they do keep track of how many months into the first year of your life you were born, and then add the January 1 birthday year to keep track of whether or not you are old enough to drive or drink.

What might really drive some people to drink is Korea also uses the international counting system everyone else uses where you age another year every 365 days from the date of your birth.

The birthday party continues, sometimes being celebrated for the Lunar New Year, which can be in February.

One person could have multiple government documents showing different birthdates! Korea also issues Family Relationship Certificates, and Marriage Relationship Certificates to prove which family you belong to, to try to eliminate some of the identification confusion.

Other Asian countries including China and Japan used similar aging systems but abandoned them decades ago. Beginning in June 2023, the Korean Age System will no longer be used. Only the internationally used system will be recognized, so so some people will become one to two years younger, at least on paper.

This was so interesting to learn about! It has made me very curious about other customs in other countries. What have you learned about that surprised you? Please share your thoughts and discoveries!

As always, I'm here to help. Free quote to see if I can answer any questions about your family tree. I have just gotten a new email with hints about one of my brick walls and I can hardly wait to dig in. Hope you also have good luck coming your way!


Leslie Ryan

No compensation for any sites or referrals. No intentional copyright infringement.


bottom of page