Birthdays in Korea: We Might Have an Interesting Issue

23 Oct

In our Korean Language class last week, our teacher talked about Korean birthdays and ages. Did you know that a baby is born being 1? They count the age in the womb as an age in real life. So they are typically a full year older than their chronological age. Which, when you’re looking at the file of a 4 year old and they are using a checklist for a 5 year old, imagine how delayed the child’s scores are.

I’m very glad that I knew that bit of info before looking at Cora’s IQ test. They had her marked “globally delayed” scoring only 46 to 47 months in her scores on the 60 month old test. More than a full year behind in her scores. The thing is, she was only 48 months! ha! Hardly delayed! But culturally, she is, in Korean standards, 5 years old, not 4, so it makes sense to fill out the 5 year old checklist because she is to them, 5, not 4.

I knew this, but what I didn’t know is that their birthdays are not when they actually age. According to my Korean teacher, all of Korea age one year on January 1, not on their actual birthday. (Correct me if I’m wrong, but I specifically asked her to repeat this info.) They still celebrate birthdays, but have already adjusted their age earlier in the year.

She said that this is rather funny when a child is born in December. They are 1 when born and then turn 2 on January 1st. You could have a 1 month old (or less) baby who is considered 2 years old.

Our teacher lived in Korea for 33 years, so I’m thinking she knows what she’s talking about, however she’s been here for, I’m guessing 20 years (?) so maybe things have changed in that time?

If not, when we bring Cora home, she’s going to think she’s 6, because right now, she thinks she’s 5 due to the one year at birth and then she’ll turn 6 on Jan 1st, even though her birthday isn’t until April. She will be 4 years old by her DOB, but culturally, she’ll be 6.

I’m wondering if that will be an issue when we have her birthday in April and have only 5 candles on it. Will she remember she had 5 candles the year before and will she try to correct us and say she is 6? Huh! Interesting, huh?

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One Response to “Birthdays in Korea: We Might Have an Interesting Issue”

  1. Jesy October 23, 2011 at 5:39 pm #

    Wow how interesting!

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