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  • alonzo9772
  • Adventurer

    • 36

    • December 17, 2016, 12:09:28 pm
    • United States
How to handle the constant "How old are you?" question?
« on: March 27, 2017, 10:46:05 am »
Anyone else notice that is always one of the first questions that Koreans ask? I have only responded a few times so far with "What does my age have to do with anything?" Most of the time, I say back "How old do you think I am?" and I nod my head with whatever the person says.

Are there irrelevant questions that Americans frequently ask? Do Koreans also find the questions "How are you doing?  How do you feel today?" As equally unimportant to what I think about my age?


  • CO2
  • The Legend

    • 4633

    • March 02, 2015, 03:41:14 pm
    • Gunpo
    more
Re: How to handle the constant "How old are you?" question?
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2017, 10:47:50 am »
Welcome to Korea. hahahahaha

I wish I was a starry-eyed newcomer once more.
The joys of fauxtherhood


  • Skyehawks
  • Featured Contributor

    • 166

    • January 29, 2016, 08:36:35 am
    • South Korea
Re: How to handle the constant "How old are you?" question?
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2017, 10:49:20 am »
are you new to Korea? Because Korea has a double edged hierarchy here. 1 based on position at work. The other is based on age.

The most common reason people ask how old you are is to figure out how to address you (whether to use informal or formal speech)


  • Kayos
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1343

    • March 31, 2016, 07:13:57 pm
    • NZ
Re: How to handle the constant "How old are you?" question?
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2017, 10:50:59 am »
I've never met someone who is bothered with this question before, and I'm not really bothered by it myself. I usually get them to guess my age, and I'll tell them afterwards if they are correct, or not, and then correct them if they are wrong.
My students still ask me lots of this unimportant questions, I'm surprised they don't remember, as they ask me the same ones every week, but anything to get them trying to speak in English is a win in my book. :P

As for your second question, I wouldn't have a clue, as I'm not American. ;P


  • yirj17
  • The Legend

    • 2782

    • September 16, 2015, 02:23:16 am
    • Korealand
Re: How to handle the constant "How old are you?" question?
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2017, 10:51:12 am »
How old is Camden?


  • The Arm
  • Expert Waygook

    • 682

    • March 09, 2015, 09:15:02 am
Re: How to handle the constant "How old are you?" question?
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2017, 10:52:00 am »
I have only responded a few times so far with "What does my age have to do with anything?"

Seems like a polite response  :huh:

Seriously though, it's just one of those things you have to brush aside light heartedly if it bothers you.  Making people guess is a pretty good diversion tactic!


  • Imogen1991
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1109

    • March 18, 2015, 12:26:47 am
    • Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Re: How to handle the constant "How old are you?" question?
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2017, 10:52:45 am »
If someone asks me how old I am, I usually just tell them how old I am...
Works pretty well for me


  • maximmm
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1447

    • September 05, 2013, 11:02:44 am
Re: How to handle the constant "How old are you?" question?
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2017, 10:58:23 am »
A: The square root of 1600 minus 64 raised to the 1/6 power
B: The square root of 1600
A-B = my age


Re: How to handle the constant "How old are you?" question?
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2017, 11:01:53 am »
Be fking adult and say what your age is and accept what it is and not live in denial.

Why anyone is bothered to answer this question is beyond me. Stop being insecure about your damn age. if you're old, you're old. If you're not, you're not.

If they give a shit fine. I don't. You can't change your damn age so might as well accept it. If the truth of your age bothers you, you need some serious help dealing with life.


  • alonzo9772
  • Adventurer

    • 36

    • December 17, 2016, 12:09:28 pm
    • United States
Re: How to handle the constant "How old are you?" question?
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2017, 11:02:52 am »
My students still ask me lots of this unimportant questions, I'm surprised they don't remember, as they ask me the same ones every week, but anything to get them trying to speak in English is a win in my book. :P

As for your second question, I wouldn't have a clue, as I'm not American. ;P

Yes! My students also ask me the same weird questions every week: "How is your hair curly if you aren't Black?" "How are you a man that graduated university before the age of 25?" I guess that shows they don't listen to the response. They ask questions just to have an interaction.


  • maximmm
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1447

    • September 05, 2013, 11:02:44 am
Re: How to handle the constant "How old are you?" question?
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2017, 11:06:41 am »
Be fking adult and say what your age is and accept what it is and not live in denial.

Why anyone is bothered to answer this question is beyond me. Stop being insecure about your damn age. if you're old, you're old. If you're not, you're not.

If they give a shit fine. I don't. You can't change your damn age so might as well accept it. If the truth of your age bothers you, you need some serious help dealing with life.

The real question is not 'how old you are?', it's 'why are you so old?' - and a follow up question to whatever your reply is, 'why?'

« Last Edit: March 27, 2017, 11:46:15 am by maximmm »


Re: How to handle the constant "How old are you?" question?
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2017, 11:10:41 am »
Be fking adult and say what your age is and accept what it is and not live in denial.

Why anyone is bothered to answer this question is beyond me. Stop being insecure about your damn age. if you're old, you're old. If you're not, you're not.

If they give a shit fine. I don't. You can't change your damn age so might as well accept it. If the truth of your age bothers you, you need some serious help dealing with life.

The real question is now 'how old you are' it's 'why are you so old?' - and a follow up question to whatever your reply is, 'why?'

It's like the 'how long have you been in Korea?' question. You can bet your life if your answer is a substantial amount of time the next question will always be 'do you speak Korean?'


  • hangyul
  • Adventurer

    • 25

    • March 22, 2017, 10:42:38 am
    • Gyeonggi-do South Korea
Re: How to handle the constant "How old are you?" question?
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2017, 11:21:47 am »
The thing is, it's not an irrelevant question here. Koreans ask each other how old they are too. I ask Koreans how old they are. Most of the time it's because you need to know how to address a person and how you ought to treat them. It's just a cultural difference with the west. If I meet a Korean and plan on talking to them, I need to ask how old they are to know whether I should use formal or informal language.


  • Grimne_Lothos
  • Expert Waygook

    • 846

    • December 28, 2011, 12:56:27 pm
    • Buyeo, south korea
Re: How to handle the constant "How old are you?" question?
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2017, 11:30:40 am »
The thing is, it's not an irrelevant question here. Koreans ask each other how old they are too. I ask Koreans how old they are. Most of the time it's because you need to know how to address a person and how you ought to treat them. It's just a cultural difference with the west. If I meet a Korean and plan on talking to them, I need to ask how old they are to know whether I should use formal or informal language.

also in order to know which one of us will be treating if we go out drinking or eating ---


  • iamsam
  • Veteran

    • 99

    • March 06, 2017, 07:56:05 am
Re: How to handle the constant "How old are you?" question?
« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2017, 11:34:27 am »

Yes! My students also ask me the same weird questions every week: "How is your hair curly if you aren't Black?" "How are you a man that graduated university before the age of 25?" I guess that shows they don't listen to the response. They ask questions just to have an interaction.
[/quote]

Do you teach elementary students?  By asking "How are you a man that graduated university before the age of 25?"  I'm impressed.

I don't think it has to do with the hierarchy and because they need to know how to address us.  Everyone knows we don't have a place in the ranking so it doesn't matter to them.  Shit, my elementary students yell out 안녕! like I was a golden retriever.  It's probably something people are used to asking and trying to make simple conversation.  They couldn't care less about  how you fit in the Korean system as a foreigner.   You won't fit in, ever, period. 민족울리나라!!
« Last Edit: March 27, 2017, 11:36:26 am by iamsam »


  • JNM
  • The Legend

    • 4088

    • January 19, 2015, 10:16:48 am
    • Seoul, South Korea
Re: How to handle the constant "How old are you?" question?
« Reply #15 on: March 27, 2017, 11:45:49 am »


True that we are outside the hierarchy, but it is one of the basic introduction questions they ask.  We ask questions that don't matter either, just to figure out how this person will fit into our view of the world.

"Where are you from?"
"What do you do for a living?"
"Are you married? Any kids?"



« Last Edit: March 27, 2017, 11:54:00 am by JNM »


Re: How to handle the constant "How old are you?" question?
« Reply #16 on: March 27, 2017, 11:49:10 am »

Do you teach elementary students?  By asking "How are you a man that graduated university before the age of 25?"  I'm impressed.


Well, they did have Camden...


  • maximmm
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1447

    • September 05, 2013, 11:02:44 am
Re: How to handle the constant "How old are you?" question?
« Reply #17 on: March 27, 2017, 11:49:40 am »
I have only responded a few times so far with "What does my age have to do with anything?"

Seems like a polite response  :huh:

Seriously though, it's just one of those things you have to brush aside light heartedly if it bothers you.  Making people guess is a pretty good diversion tactic!

Yeah, I feel like the best way to deal with awkward questions probably isn't outright hostility.

You mean 'How dare you!  Do you realize how impolite you are being right now??!  Stop acting like such a barbarian!' response would be inappropriate?   :lipsrsealed:


  • maximmm
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1447

    • September 05, 2013, 11:02:44 am
Re: How to handle the constant "How old are you?" question?
« Reply #18 on: March 27, 2017, 11:51:29 am »


True that we are outside the hierarchy, but it is one of the basic introduction questions they ask.  We ask questions that don't matter either, just to figure out how this person will fit into our view of the world.

"Where are you from?"
"What do you do for a living?"
"Are you married? Any kids?"

That's true, and to be fair, my initial question to people I first meet is usually 'Why do you exist?'   :angel:


  • fas6pa
  • Adventurer

    • 53

    • August 24, 2014, 10:39:08 am
    • Daejeon
Re: How to handle the constant "How old are you?" question?
« Reply #19 on: March 27, 2017, 12:05:59 pm »
I always say I'm a 2,000 year old cyborg sent from the future.