Korea: Don't Make Me Older!

In Korea, there are two ways to calculate your age: the Korean way and the western way. Officially, the Korean method is the way to calculate your age in Korea. As soon as you are born, you are age one. No matter when you are born (like 31st of Demember), you will be two the next calendar year (Jan. 1). The Korean way of calculating age didn’t cause problems or bring about complaints from Koreans until recently. The more chances Koreans have to meet people from other places, the more confused they are to answer about their age. And they recognize that they are regarded older than other non-Koreans with the same age. In addition, due to this difference from the age calculation and misunderstanding, the statements of Comfort Women were recently almost regarded as false testimony.

And of course nobody wants to get old faster. A netizen appealed to unify the age calculation system to the western method in a portal site, ‘Netizen Appeal.’ The appeal has gotten many responses.

얼마전부터 법정 계량단위가 사회적으로도 공연히 이용되게 되었는데, 나이에 대해서도 우리나이보다는 국제적인 시류에 맞는 나이체계를 가졌으면 하는 바램입니다…
안 그래도 우리나라 남자들은 군대 갔다 오면 2년이 날아가는데 거기에 우리나이까지 더해서…..몇 살은 더 공까먹는 느낌입니다..)

Recently, legal measuring units changed and we use them in public now. I hope that the age calculation changes according to the international trend…
Korean men feel two years are taken from their lives because of military service… and then adding one or two years by the Korean age system… I feel like I am losing several years.

Most netizens are happy to agree with this appeal. Living abroad, having chances to meet people from other countries, and having the desire to be younger, all kinds of opinions have emerged abut why it should be changed.

Girl Nina writes,

외국 살면서 만으로 계산 하다보니, 한국사람이 나이 물어보면 가끔 난감하더라구요.

I have calculated my age in the western calculating style since I have lived abroad for a while. Now I’m confused about my age when Koreans ask my age

But there are dissidents as well.

Bomdol said,

반대합니다. 자꾸 우리의 것을 버리려고 하는데 결코 좋지 않은 일입니다.

I am opposed. It seems that there is the tendency to throw out our own culture. It’s not good.

MC7L said,

생명존중사상, 윤리적 도적적으로 우리식 나이계산법이 매우 바람직합니다… 이것은 우리가 고칠게 아니라 외국이 고쳐야 한다고 생각하네요… 우리식 나이를 세계 표준 나이 계산법으로~~~

Philosophy to respect life. I think that the Korean age calculation is desirable in ethical and moral aspects… Other countries should change, not us.

Haneul Woomul shows how age is important in Korea. (The Korean language requires knowing the relative age of people in dialogue. In the first meeting with a stranger, asking the age is one of the first steps. After that, they can decide what to call each other).

난 지금이 좋은데?ㅋ 우리만의 나이를 세는 문화자나요 뭐하러 통일? 글구 나이 별로 안중요함 세계적으로 나갈수록…;; 별로 공개도 안하고 사는 외국인들…

I like the way we are now. It’s our culture of how to calculate age. Why do we have to unify? And then.. age is not so important. Especially in other countries, they don’t publicize their age so much.


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