Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What, 40 Already?!

Here's something unexpected: In Korea, you're already one year old on the day that you're born. They count gestation as life (don't let the right to lifers know) so newborns greet the world with a full year already under their belts. That is, if babies wore belts.

This is a fun fact, isn't it? What's not so fun: I have gone from 38 years old to 39 without the presents and the cake and the party. Even though I'm 38 back home, in Korea I'm almost 40. ALMOST 40. This is very unfair.

But wait, there's more: in Korea, seniority in everything is determined by age. If you're older, you're better. Doesn't matter how much of a knob you are. If you were born before the next guy, you win. Don't like it? Tough titty, that's the way it is.

To keep people from going nuts and getting really nitpicky about it, they let everyone born in the same year be of equal status. This has the added benefit of creating bonding opportunities for strangers. It doesn't matter if you have nothing else in common, if you were born in the same year you're instant best buds. Time to drink.

To make sure everyone born in the same year really understands that they're the same age, your age advances not on your birthday but on January 1. (Some will argue that it happens on the Lunar New Year.) This is all wonderful and fascinating but what it means to me is that on January 1 I will turn 40. Goddamn it!

See, I was born in 1972, making me 38 everywhere except Korea. My birthday is February 1, so everywhere except Korea I will turn 39 on February 1, 2011. But in wonderful, wacky Korea I am already 39 and thus will turn 40 on January 1, a full 13 goddamn months early. This does not please me.

But, I hear you saying, isn't being older a good thing in Korea? Doesn't that make you even more superior? No, it doesn't, because I'm a foreigner and therefore don't get to win at anything. I'm just a 40-year-old foreigner.

At least the kimchi is good.


  1. I'm turning the big 3-0 this year according to Korea. I feel the same way.

  2. I really like that "If you're older, you're better." way Korea has,,,,,,I wish Japan has that spiritual....and you know what? 40 is sexy.....:P