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Korean Zodiac - Animal Signs    

The Lunar Calendar was the basis of Korean life in the past and to this day, holidays/celebratory events are based on the moon's cycles. Years were represented by animals that followed each other in an established order repeated every 12 years. In Korea, when someone asks about your sign, they are not only getting a sense of your personality as people in the West do with signs of the zodiac, they are also working out your age, usually to determine who is the oldest in the group.

The twelve animals guardian deities collectively known as the Sibijisin, which literally means "Twelve (sibi) gods of the earth (jisin)." They were also used to measure the hours of the day as well as to represent direction. For example, the hours between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. had been called "Myosi" (Time of the Rabbit), and the hours between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. "Misi" (Time of the Sheep). The entire day had been divided into twelve different "times," each represented by one of the twelve animals. (See attached for more details)

The twelve animal signs are: Rat (aka Mouse), Ox (aka Cow, Bull, Buffalo), Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep (Ram or Goat also), Monkey, Rooster (aka Chicken), Dog and Pig. Every animal is considered to have specific characteristics, which are shared by people born in their year. The year itself may be defined by its animal.

The order of the animals is said to be a result of a contest between the animals. When the gods were asked to decide which of them would be first, they decided to have all the animals swim accross a river. Each animal's place would be determined by the order in which they reached the opposite bank. According to some myths, unknown to the ox, the rat jumped on his back and hitched a ride, while others say that the ox generously agree to give the rat a ride. As they approached the shore, the rat jumped off the oxen's head and earned himself first place, with the ox following in second.

RAT: A Rat Year is a time of hard work, activity, and renewal.  This is a good year to begin a new job, get married, launch a product or make a fresh start.  People born in an Earth Rat are said to be logical realists, shrewd, charming, ambitious, and inventive.  People born in the Year of Rat are clever and bright, sociable and family-minded.  They have broad interests and strong ability in adapting to the environment and able to react adequately to any changes. In the East, the rat in a more positive light than in the West. 
Rat years: 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008

OX: The Ox, which is also known as the Buffalo, sign symbolizes prosperity through fortitude and hard work. Those born under the influence of the Ox or(Water) Buffalo are seen as stable and persevering.  The typical Ox is a tolerant person with strong character.  Not many people could equal the resolution and fearlessness that the Ox exhibits when deciding to accomplish a task.  Ox people work hard without complaints at work or at home.  They know that they will succeed through hard work and sustained efforts, and do not believe in get-rich-quick schemes.
Ox years: 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009

TIGER:
Tiger people seen as sensitive, given to deep thinking, capable of great sympathy. They can be extremely short-tempered, however. Other people have great respect for them, but sometimes tiger people come into conflict with older people or those in authority. They sometimes cannot make up their minds, which can result in a poor, hasty decision or a sound decision arrived at too late. They can be suspicious of others, but also courageous and powerful. Every 60 years comes the Year of the White Tiger - 2010 is one such year. Some consider the year of the White Tiger to be an unlucky year, while others maintain the opposite is true.
Tiger years: 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010

RABBIT: The Rabbit is a lucky sign.  Rabbits are private individuals and a bit introverted.  People born in the Year of the Rabbit are reasonably friendly individuals who enjoy the company of a group of good friends.  They are good teachers, counselors and communicators, but also need their own space.
Rabbit years: 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011

DRAGON: The Dragon is the mightiest of the signs. Dragons symbolize such character traits as dominance and ambition. They prefer to live by their own rules and if left on their own, are usually successful. They’re driven, unafraid of challenges, and willing to take risks. They’re passionate in all they do and they do things in grand fashion. While Dragons frequently help others, rarely will they ask for help. Others are attracted to Dragons, especially their colorful personalities, but deep down, Dragons prefer to be alone.
Dragon years: 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012

SNAKE: The snake is the most enigmatic, intuitive, introspective, refined and collected of the Animals Signs.   People born in the Year of the Snake are keen and cunning, quite intelligent and wise.  They are great mediators and good at doing business.  
Snake years: 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013

HORSE: People born in the Year of the Horse are popular. They are seen as cheerful, skillful with money, and perceptive, although they sometimes talk too much. They are wise, talented, good with their hands, and sometimes have a weakness for members of the opposite sex. They are impatient and hot-blooded about everything except their daily work. They like entertainment and large crowds. They are very independent and rarely listen to advice. For this reason, in Korea, women born in the year of the horse were not desirable brides - they were said to be too independent, especially those born in the year of the white horse (2002).
Horse years: 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014

GOAT: Also called the Year of the Ram or Year of the Sheep. People born in the year of the Goat are described as elegant, intelligent, dependable, calm individuals, who are very creative and typically accomplished artists. They can be shy, pessimistic, and puzzled about life and prefer to be alone. Most despise being the center of attention but enjoy being part of a group.
Goat years: 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015

MONKEY: People born in the Year of the Monkey are the erratic geniuses of the animal signs. Clever, skillful, and flexible, they are remarkably inventive and original and can solve the most difficult problems with ease. They are good at assessing risk and financial problems.  They are the ultimate diplomats and slip in and out of difficulties with ease. 
Monkey years: 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016

ROOSTER: Persons born in a Rooster year (also called year of the Hen/Chicken in Korea) are said to be shrewd, industrious, outspoken and definite when making decisions.  Many are extravagant and a bit of the dreamer. In a Rooster year, it is important to consider all the positives and negatives before making major decisions.  Read the small print carefully, because that is where unpleasant surprises reside. It takes hard work to maintain partnerships begun in a Rooster year.
Rooster years: 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017

DOG: People born in the Year of the Dog possess the best traits of human nature. They have a deep sense of loyalty, are honest, and inspire other people's confidence because they know how to keep secrets. They can also be somewhat selfish, terribly stubborn, and eccentric. They care little for wealth, yet somehow always seem to have money. Dog people make good leaders.
Dog years: 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018

PIG: This last of the animal sign cycle is also called the Year of the Boar. The pig is often associated with fertility and virility. People born in the Year of the Pig said to be chivalrous and gallant. They don't make many friends but they make them for life, and anyone having a Boar Year friend is fortunate for they are extremely loyal. They don't talk much but have a great thirst for knowledge. They study a great deal and are generally well informed. 
Pig years: 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019


Photo from www.chinesezodiac.org.uk

Last Updated on 2013-01-04



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  In the same header
-Architectural Art -Chasu - Embroidery in Korea
-Childbirth Customs -Gender Roles
-Gift Giving -History of Korea
-Korean Ancestral Memorial Rites, Jerye. -Korean Birthday Customs
-Korean Courtesy and Harmony -Korean Entertaining Etiquette
-Korean People and Culture -Korean Zodiac - Animal Signs
-Personal Ornaments -Sebae, Ritual Bow
-Traditional Board-Card Games -Traditional Games
-Traditional Role of Women -Traditional Sports
-Wedding Customs


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