East Asian age reckoning

East Asian age reckoning originated in China and continues in limited use there along with Tibet and Japan, but is still common in Korea. People are born at the age of one, i.e. the first year of lifetime using ordinal number (instead of "zero" using cardinal number), and on Chinese New Year or New Year's Day one year is added to their age.[1][2] Since age is incremented at the beginning of the lunar or solar year, rather than on the anniversary of a birthday, people may be one or two years older in Asian reckoning than in the international age system.

Dol is the traditional way of celebrating a birthday of a one-year-old child in South Korea

Variations in date for change of age

Under the traditional reckoning in China, age changes on the first day of Chinese New Year. In Japan and South Korea, New Year's Day is used as the date of change of age for the traditional system.


In either the traditional or modern age system the word sui (traditional Chinese: ; simplified Chinese: ; pinyin: suì), meaning "years of age", is used for age counting. When a person's age is given in a publication, it is often specified whether it is his or her:

  • Traditional age, "virtual age" (traditional Chinese: 虛歲/齡; simplified Chinese: 虚岁/龄; pinyin: xūsuì/líng) based on the East Asian reckoning system
  • Modern age, "round age" (traditional Chinese: 周歲; simplified Chinese: 周岁; pinyin: zhōusùi)
  • "Real age", (traditional Chinese: 實歲; simplified Chinese: 实岁; pinyin: shísùi) based on the Gregorian calendar[3]

Of the three, only 周歲/周岁 (Chinese), zhōusuì (pinyin) = "round age" may be used as a count word.

When a child has survived one month of life (29 days if lunar month reckoning) a mun yuet (Chinese: 滿月; pinyin: mǎnyuè) celebration can be observed, in which duck or chicken eggs dyed red are distributed to guests to signify fertility.


The traditional Japanese system of age reckoning, or kazoedoshi (数え年, lit. "counted years"), which incremented one's age on New Year's Day, was rendered obsolete by law in 1902 when Japan officially adopted the modern age system,[4][5][6] known in Japanese as man nenrei (満年齢). However, the traditional system was still commonly used, so in 1950 another law was established to encourage people to use the modern age system.[7][8][9]

Today the traditional system is used only by the elderly and in rural areas. Elsewhere its use is limited to traditional ceremonies, divinations, and obituaries.

Japanese uses the word sai ( or ) as a counter word for both the traditional and modern age system.


Koreans who use the traditional system refer to their age in units called sal (), using Korean numerals in ordinal form. Thus, a person is one sal ("han sal", 한살) during the first calendar year of life, and ten sal during the tenth calendar year.[10][11]

The 100th-day anniversary of a baby is called baegil (, ) which literally means "a hundred days" in Korean, and is given a special celebration, marking the survival of what was once a period of high infant mortality. The first anniversary of birth named dol () is likewise celebrated, and given even greater significance. South Koreans celebrate their birthdays,[12] even though every South Korean gains one 'sal' on New Year's Day.[13] Because the first year comes at birth and the second on the first day of the New Year, children born, for example, on December 29 will reach two years of age on the New Year's Day, when they are only days old. Hence, everyone born on the same calendar year effectively has the same age and can easily be calculated by the formula: Age = (Current Year − Birth Year) + 1

In modern South Korea the traditional system is used alongside the international age system which is referred to as "man-nai" (만나이) in which "man" () means "full"[14] or "actual", and "nai" (나이) meaning "age".[13][15] For example, man yeol sal means "full ten years", or "ten years old" in English. The Korean word dol means "years elapsed", identical to the English "years old", but is only used to refer to the first few birthdays. Cheotdol or simply dol refers to the first Western-equivalent birthday, dudol refers to the second, and so on.[16][17]

The traditional system has not been used in modern North Korea since the 1980s.

The Korean Birthday Celebrations by the lunar calendar is called eumnyeok saeng-il (음력 생일, 陰曆生日) and yangnyeok saeng-il (양력 생일, 陽曆生日) is the birthday by Gregorian calendar.[18]

For official government uses, documents, and legal procedures, the international system is used. Regulations regarding age limits on beginning school, as well as the age of consent, are all based on this system (man-nai).[15][19] The age limit for tobacco, alcohol use are after January 1 of the year one's age turns to 19.[20]

Eastern Mongolia

In Eastern Mongolia, age is traditionally determined based on the number of full moons since conception for girls, and the number of new moons since birth for boys.

See also


  1. ^ Shi Liwei (30 April 2009). "Why Chinese People Have a Nominal Age". ChinaCulture.org. Archived from the original on 5 October 2009. Retrieved 11 November 2009.
  2. ^ "98, 90 or 93? Expert sheds light on tycoon's age". The Star. October 25, 2007. Archived from the original on June 4, 2011. Retrieved 2009-02-26.
  3. ^ "中国人为何还有一个虚岁". Retrieved 24 January 2012.
  4. ^ レファレンス事例詳細: 相-090002, Collaborative Reference Database. (Accessed 2009-11-11.) "なお、年齢が数えか満年齢かについては、現行法規である「年齢計算ニ関スル法律」が明治35年12月2日法律第50号として存在するが、その前に「明治六年第三十六号布告」で満年齢について規定された。 (translation: Regarding whether one counts age by ``kazoedoshi`` or the modern age system (満年齢), there exists the current "Legal age calculation" law in the form of Meiji 35 (1902), December 2, Act no. 50, but prior to that the use of the modern age system was set forth in the "Meiji 13 Proclamation No. 6".)"
  5. ^ "年齢計算ニ関スル法律 Act on Calculation of Ages" (in Japanese). Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications Japan. 1902. Archived from the original on 2013-01-25. Retrieved 2009-11-11.
  6. ^ "Act on Calculation of Ages". Ministry of Justice, Japan. 1902.
  7. ^ Hirofumi Hirano, July Heisei 40, 年齢の計算に関する質問主意書 (Memorandum on questions about the calculation of age) Archived 2009-06-28 at the Wayback Machine, Japan House of Representatives. (Retrieved 2009-11-11) "わが国では、「年齢のとなえ方に関する法律」に基づき、昭和二十五年以降数え年による年齢計算を止め、満年齢によって年齢を計算している。 (translation: In Japan, the age laws which were originally based on the calculation by East Asian age reckoning (数え年) were replaced in Showa 25 with the modern age system (満年齢) of age calculation.)"
  8. ^ "年齢のとなえ方に関する法律Act on Designation of Ages" (in Japanese). Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications Japan. 1950. Archived from the original on 2013-01-25.
  9. ^ "Act on Counting of Ages". Ministry of Justice, Japan. 1949.
  10. ^ Song, Jae Jung. (2005), pp. 81–82, (quote) "Koreans prefer native Korean to Sino-Korean numerals when telling their own or other people's age,...Note that the native age classifier sal must be used with native Korean numerals and the Sino-Korean age classifier sey with Sino-Korean numerals,.."
  11. ^ "In Korea, all children are older than their European peers". Pravda. July 16, 2013. Retrieved 2014-04-08.
  12. ^ DuBois (2004), pp. 72–73
  13. ^ a b Park, Hyunjoo; Pan, Yuling (2007-05-19). "Cognitive Interviewing with Asian Populations: Findings from Chinese and Korean Interviews" (PDF). Anaheim, CA: RTI International. Retrieved 2009-11-11. Koreans are considered one year old at birth and added another year at New Year’s....some Koreans may use American age counting convention while others still follow Korean convention. To eliminate this confusion, Korean asked “만나이(Man-nai)’: the same as the U.S. age counting convention.
  14. ^ 만7(滿) (in Korean). Nate Korean Dictionary. Archived from the original on 2011-10-06. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 시기나 햇수를 꽉 차게 헤아림을 이르는 말.(trans. The word refers to calculating full years or periods.
  15. ^ a b Hilts and Kim, (2002), p. 228 (quote) "Koreans have a peculiar way of calculating age. When you're born, you're already one year old, and then you get another year older when New Year's Day rolls around. The result is that your hangungnai (한국나이), 'Korean age', is usually one to two years older than your man-nai (만 나이), 'actual age'. Under-age kids sometimes try to take some advantage of this, but eligibility for drinking, obtaining license etc is determined by your actual age."
  16. ^ [Dol] (in Korean). Nate Korean–English Dictionary. Archived from the original on 2011-07-14. Retrieved 2009-11-11. )
  17. ^ 돌1 [Dol] (in Korean). Nate Korean Dictionary. Archived from the original on 2011-07-14. Retrieved 2009-11-11. Ⅰ. (명사) 어린아이가 태어난 날로부터 한 해가 되는 날. (Ⅱ ) 1. 생일이 돌아온 횟수를 세는 단위. 주로 두세 살의 어린아이에게 쓴다. 2. 특정한 날이 해마다 돌아올 때, 그 횟수를 세는 단위.
  18. ^ Kim Tae-yeop (김태엽) (2006-08-08). "'8월 18일은 이승엽 DAY!'...요미우리, 축하 이벤트 마련" ['The day on August 18 is Lee Seung-Yeop's Day!'..Yomiuri, preparing a congratulatory event] (in Korean). Sports Chosun. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 최근 이승엽의 아버지 이춘광씨는 보통 양력생일을 치르는 요즘의 추세와 달리 이승엽의 음력 생일(1976년 8월18일)을 치르는 사연을 밝혀 화제가 됐다 (trans. It was a recent topic that Lee Chun-gwang, the father of Lee Seung-Yeop, revealed the reason why Lee Seung-Yeop takes his lunar birthday on August 18, 1976 instead of the solar birthday as opposed to the current trend.)
  19. ^ "성년 成年, full age" (in Korean). Nate / Britannica. Archived from the original on 2011-06-10. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 한국의 경우 만 20세로 성년이 되며(민법 제4조)...연령의 계산은 민법 제155조 이하의 규정에 의하나, 출생일을 산입한다(동법 제158조). 1977년의 민법 개정으로 혼인에 의한 성년의제(成年擬制)의 제도를 도입했다..대통령선거법·국회의원선거법·국민투표법·지방자치법·지방의회의원선거법·미성년자보호법 등에서는 이 원칙이 적용되지 않는다.
  20. ^ "청소년보호법" [Adolescent Protection Law]. 국가법령정보센터 (in Korean). 대한민국 법제처. 7 July 2016. Retrieved 30 July 2016. "청소년" 이란 만 19세 미만인 사람을 말한다. 다만, 만 19세가 되는 해의 1월 1일을 맞이한 사람은 제외한다.


  • DuBois, Jill (2004). Korea. 7 of Cultures of the world. Marshall Cavendish. pp. 72–73. ISBN 0-7614-1786-9.
  • Hilts, J. D.; Kim, Minkyoung (2002). Korean phrasebook. Lonely Planet. p. 228. ISBN 1-74059-166-6.
  • Song, Jae Jung (2005). The Korean language: structure, use and context. Routledge. pp. 81–82. ISBN 0-415-32802-0.

External links

Cao Gan

Cao Gan (214 – 14 September 261), also known as Cao Liang, was an imperial prince of the state of Cao Wei in the Three Kingdoms period of China.

Cao Rui

Cao Rui (pronunciation ) (204 or 206 – 22 January 239), courtesy name Yuanzhong, was the second emperor of the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period. His parentage is in dispute: his mother, Lady Zhen, was Yuan Xi's wife, but she later remarried Cao Pi, the first ruler of Wei. Based on conflicting accounts of his age, Pei Songzhi calculated that, in order to be Cao Pi's son, Cao Rui could not have been 36 (by East Asian age reckoning) when he died as recorded, so the recorded age was in error; Lu Bi and Mou Guangsheng argued instead that Cao Rui was Yuan Xi's son.

Cao Rui's reign was viewed in many different ways throughout Chinese history. He was an emperor who was known to have been a strong military strategist and a good leader astute in commissioning capable officials. At the same time, he was personally a supporter of arts. He devoted much resources into building palaces and ancestral temples, and his reign saw the stalemate between his empire, Shu Han, and Eastern Wu become more entrenched. His building projects and his desire to have many concubines (who numbered in the thousands) greatly exhausted the imperial treasury. On his deathbed, he entrusted his son Cao Fang to the regency of Cao Shuang and Sima Yi — a fatal mistake for his clan, as Cao Shuang monopolised power and governed incompetently, eventually drawing a violent reaction from Sima Yi, who overthrew him in a coup d'état (Incident at Gaoping Tombs) and became in control of the Wei government from AD 249, eventually allowing his grandson Sima Yan to usurp the it's throne in AD 266. After his death, Cao Rui was posthumously honoured as "Emperor Ming" with the temple name "Liezu".

Cao Xun

Cao Xun (231 – September or October 244) was an imperial prince of the state of Cao Wei in the Three Kingdoms period of China. He was an adopted son of Cao Rui, the second emperor of Wei. While the identities of his parents are unknown, Cao Xun was allegedly a son of Cao Kai (曹楷), the son of Cao Zhang (Cao Rui's uncle). On 23 September 235, Cao Rui enfeoffed Cao Xun as the Prince of Qin (秦王). Cao Xun died sometime between 19 September and 18 October 244.

Dong Zhao (Three Kingdoms)

Dong Zhao (156 – 4 July 236), courtesy name Gongren, was an official of the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period of China. He previously served under the warlords Yuan Shao, Zhang Yang and Cao Cao consecutively during the late Eastern Han dynasty.

Guan Ning

Guan Ning (158–241), courtesy name You'an, was a writer and scholar of the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period of China. He was from Zhuxu County (朱虛縣), Beihai Commandery (北海郡), which is near present-day Linqu County, Shandong. His father died when he was 16. He was friends with Hua Xin and Bing Yuan (邴原).

Huo Jun

Huo Jun (c. 177–216), courtesy name Zhongmiao, was a military general serving under the warlord Liu Bei in the late Eastern Han dynasty of China.

Jia Kui (general)

Jia Kui (174-228), originally named Jia Qu, courtesy name Liangdao, was a military general and official who lived during the late Eastern Han dynasty of China. He served under the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period.

Lu Jing

Lu Jing (250-280), courtesy name Shiren, was a military general of the state of Eastern Wu during the Three Kingdoms period of China. He was the second son of Lu Kang and a grandson of Lu Xun.

Paek Son-haeng

Paek Son-haeng (1848 November – 1933) was a Korean businesswoman known for her philanthropy. The name "Son Haeng" means virtuous deeds, and was a nickname bestowed on her due to her contributions. North Korean sources claim that she was born in modern-day Chung-kuyŏk, Pyongyang, but South Korean sources claim that she was born in Suwon. She was widowed at the age of 16 or 20, and spent the rest of her life saving money while spending very little. Regardless of her place of birth, she spent most of her life in Pyongyang, where most of her donations were made.

Paek has often been used by the North Korean regime as an example of a good capitalist, and contrasted to the majority of capitalists who were miserly and non-patriotic. She is mentioned in Kim Il Sung's With the Century as someone respected by the people as "a great war hero" due to her success in making money under the Japanese regime. In July 2006, her memorial stone was rediscovered and restored in Pyongyang.

Paek made her first major donation after turning 61 in 1908 (see East Asian age reckoning), when she supported the construction of the Paeksŏn Bridge across the Taedong River. In 1922, she built a three-story public assembly hall in Pyongyang. She donated land to the Kwangson School, a public school in Pyongyang, in 1923, and to the Changdok School in 1924. Thereafter she also provided land and an endowment to the school run by Samuel Austin Moffet, and also provided large amounts land to the Sunghyon School in Pyongyang. In 1925, she donated her entire fortune to charity groups.

The Japanese colonial government offered her an award for her contributions, but she refused.

Ren Cancan

Ren Cancan (Chinese: 任灿灿; pinyin: Rén Càncàn; born April 26, 1986 in Jining, Shandong) is a female Chinese boxer who has won three world championships. She took up boxing in 2002 and won the silver medal in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London in the Women's Boxing – Flyweight Division as southpaw, she is also a bronze medalist of women's 51 kg title at 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She lost in both of her Olympic Games to the double-champion Nicola Adams.

Her official birthdate is January 26, 1988, as registered with the international boxing association, but she told Reuters in Chinese through a translator, that her actual birthdate is April 26, 1986. January 26, 1988 is 9 months after April 26, 1987 of the prior year, and East Asian age reckoning often used conception date for girls in the past, but that does not explain the extra year discrepancy coming from the translator.

Sima You

Sima You (248–283), courtesy name Dayou, was an imperial prince of the Jin dynasty (265–420) of China. He was the second son of Sima Zhao, a regent of the Cao Wei state during the Three Kingdoms period. Sima You became the heir to his uncle, Sima Shi, who at the time was sonless. It is known that Sima You was a person of mild-mannered character who expected to be appointed emperor, but ended being passed over due to that of his young age. The heir that was chosen was Sima Zhao's first son, Sima Yan (Emperor Wu), who usurped the Cao Wei throne and established the Jin dynasty with himself as the new emperor in 265.

When Emperor Wu appointed his developmentally disabled son heir apparent, he was concerned that his subjects viewed Sima You too favourably. In order to strengthen his son's position, he ordered Sima You away from Luoyang in 282 to a vassal state, despite protestations from their sisters, Princess Jingzhao and Princess Changshan. Sima You fell ill from the stress and died soon after at the age of 36 (by East Asian age reckoning).Sima You's son, Sima Jiong, was one of the eight princes involved in the War of the Eight Princes during the reign of Emperor Hui, the second emperor of the Jin dynasty.

Sun Lü

Sun Lü (213 – February 232), courtesy name Zizhi, was a noble and military general of the state of Eastern Wu in the Three Kingdoms period of China. He was the second son of Sun Quan, the founding emperor of Eastern Wu.

Wang Can

Wang Can (177–217), courtesy name Zhongxuan, was a Chinese politician and poet who lived during the late Eastern Han dynasty of China. He contributed greatly to the establishment of laws and standards during the founding days of the vassal kingdom of Wei – the forerunner of the state of Cao Wei in the Three Kingdoms period – under the warlord Cao Cao, who was the de facto head of the Han central government in the final years of the Eastern Han dynasty. For his literary achievements, Wang Can was ranked among the Seven Scholars of Jian'an.

Wang Can was also renowned for his eidetic memory. The historical text Records of the Three Kingdoms described an incident where Wang Can was watching a game of weiqi. Someone accidentally knocked into the board and scattered the pieces. Wang Can then placed the pieces back to their original positions based on memory.

Wang Yuanji

Wang Yuanji (217–268) was the wife of Sima Zhao, a regent of the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period of China. She became the empress dowager during the reign of her son Sima Yan, who ended the Wei regime and founded the Jin dynasty. She was posthumously honoured as "Empress Wenming" (literally "civil and understanding empress") after her death.

Xun Yue

Xun Yue (148–209), courtesy name Zhongyu, was an official, historian and Confucian scholar of the Eastern Han dynasty of China. Born in the influential Xun family of Yingchuan Commandery (穎川郡; around present-day Xuchang, Henan), Xun Yue served in the Han government as a historian and wrote 13 chapters of the historical text Annals of Han (漢紀), which covered the history of the Western Han dynasty (206 BCE – 9 CE).

Yang Huiyu

Yang Huiyu (214–278), formally known as Empress Jingxian, semi-formally known as Empress Dowager Hongxun (弘訓太后), was an empress dowager of the Jin dynasty of China. She was the third wife of Sima Shi, a regent of the Cao Wei state in the Three Kingdoms period. Her father, Yang Chai (羊茝), was a commandery administrator while her mother was a daughter of the Han dynasty historian and musician Cai Yong. Her brother was Yang Hu, a military general who served under the Jin dynasty.

Yang Huiyu did not have any sons with Sima Shi – who did not have any sons with his prior wives or concubines, either. As a result, his brother Sima Zhao became the regent after his death. After Sima Zhao's death, his son Sima Yan usurped the throne from the last Cao Wei emperor Cao Huan and established the Jin dynasty with himself as the new emperor. In recognition of his uncle's contribution, he honoured Yang Huiyu as an empress dowager in 266 and housed her in Hongxun Palace (which is why she was semi-formally known as Empress Dowager Hongxun). It was said that it was at her insistence that Emperor Wu also posthumously honoured Sima Shi's first wife, Xiahou Hui, as Empress Jinghuai. She died in 278 at the age of 65 (by East Asian age reckoning) and was buried with honours due an empress beside Sima Shi.

Zhang Chunhua

Zhang Chunhua (189 – May or June 247) was the wife of Sima Yi, a prominent military general and regent of the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period of China. She was posthumously honoured as Empress Xuanmu in 266 by her grandson Sima Yan, who ended the Cao Wei state and established the Jin dynasty that year.

Zhu Huan

Zhu Huan (177–238), courtesy name Xiumu, was a military general of the state of Eastern Wu during the Three Kingdoms period of China. Although he started his career early under the warlord Sun Quan, he did not receive any important responsibilities until after the Battle of Jiangling in 209. Since then, Zhu Huan had taken charge of some local defences and successfully quelled a few rebellions. Between 222 and 225, when Cao Pi, the emperor of Wu's rival state Wei, launched a three-pronged invasion of Wu, Sun Quan appointed Zhu Huan as a military commander to resist the Wei invaders. Zhu Huan defeated the Wei general Cao Ren at the Battle of Ruxu (222–223).

Zhuge Qiao

Zhuge Qiao (199-223), courtesy name Bosong, was an official of the state of Shu Han in the Three Kingdoms period of China. He was the adopted son of Zhuge Liang, the Imperial Chancellor and regent of Shu from 223 to 234. His biological father was Zhuge Liang's elder brother Zhuge Jin, a military general of Shu's ally state, Eastern Wu.

Countries and regions
Ethnic groups
Politics and economics
Science and technology


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.