Planning to wed sometime next winter, 27-year-old Jeon Hye-seong said that she would choose December 2012 rather than wait until 2013.
“I heard that 2012 is supposed to be lucky, being the black dragon year. Given that I get to choose sometime in the winter, why not choose the lucky year?” said the bride-to-be.
“Although, it seems that there are so many special years, like the golden pig year which passed a few years ago, that I sometimes believe it is nothing but a gimmick,” she added.
Though unsure, those who are planning to get married or have babies in the near future are still hurrying to make the big day fall in 2012, if they can choose. Next year is known to be the year of the black dragon, a fortunate year which comes every 60 years.
Though winter is usually an unpopular season to wed, the number of wedding reservations increased in many venues. At Westin Chosun Hotel the reservation rate for December jumped 200 percent this year compared to that of last year, at the Renaissance Seoul Hotel 60 percent and at J.W. Marriott Seoul 13 percent. Insiders believe the rush occurred because couples want to have their first child within 2012.
Reservations for February 2012 increased by 130 percent at the Seoul Palace Hotel and by 30 percent each at Westin Chosun Hotel and J.W. Marriott Hotel compared to the same month this year. Other venues where reservations did not dramatically increase yet are closely observing the fuss about the black dragon year.
“We see no big difference yet. But considering that a leap month is placed between April and May and 2012 is the black dragon year, we are expecting rushes in the latter half of next year,” said Han Ji-hye, an official at the marketing department of Villa de Bailey, a wedding house in southern Seoul.
At remonterrace, an internet caf popular among mothers-to-be, black dragon year is one of the hottest key words. Women submit posts worrying that “it might be too late to have a black dragon baby, I have not yet even got the German measles preventive shot” or excitedly confessing that they “succeeded in making a black dragon baby.”
But not all mothers-to-be are happy to have their baby born in 2012, and some even try to avoid it.
“Maybe it is because of the black dragon year but many around me are expecting next year. Honestly, I am more worried than happy. I hear that there is a baby boom in every year that is known to be fortunate, and results in extreme stress and competition for the baby, starting from when they go to kindergarten,” said 27-year-old Kim Ah-young who is expecting in March.
Industries have already started to seduce consumers with “black dragon” products. Black dragon-themed baby clothes, hats and toys are popular in online markets. Products with whimsical ideas are popping up, like a dragon-engraved black stamp in which one can put the baby’s umbilical cord.
Department stores are expecting at least another 20 percent jump in sales just as in 2009 when it was the year of the white tiger. Shinsegae Department store in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul, opened “Boon Junior,” a multi brand shop for children’s clothes shop this month. Hyundai Department Store will sell black dragon illustrated children’s long johns and mug cups starting January. Expecting an upcoming baby boom, Lotte Department Stores throughout the metropolitan area are holding a children clothes sale until Jan. 8.
Black dragon designs are also popular on items that make good wedding gifts in Korea like watches, jewelry and even bars of gold and silver. All 130 of the 1 kg “black dragon silver bar” offered at online mall 11th Avenue were sold only in ten days this month despite the expensive price of 1.3 million won. The shopping mall is planning to sell the ‘black dragon gold bar’ early next year.
Hankook Chinaware, the leading brand in porcelains, has been rolling out calendar plates featuring the animal of the year every beginning of the year for about three decades now, but always sees a rise in demand in special years like this.
“The color of the dragon on the plate is not black, but many are still asking for the product to commemorate the black dragon year,” said Lee Kyung-sun, a PR official at Hankook Chinaware.
By Park Min-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)