The Korea Herald


Wishes of hope, better times in the Year of the Blue Dragon

From getting a job to wishing for a recovery from the pandemic, five people born in the Year of the Dragon share their hopes for the coming year

By Park Yuna

Published : Jan. 1, 2024 - 17:15

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As 2024 begins, those born in the Year of the Dragon are celebrating the return of their zodiac sign after 12 years.

The year 2024 is the Year of the Blue Dragon, known as the “gapjin” year in the 60-year sexagenary cycle, which is based on 10 heavenly stems and 12 earthly branches. The Korea Herald interviewed five individuals born in the Year of the Dragon to hear their wishes before Lunar New Year on Feb. 10.

Kim Hye-young (courtesy of Kim) Kim Hye-young (courtesy of Kim)

Kim Hye-young, born in 1988, lives on Jeju Island. The new year is particularly meaningful for her family, where four members were born in the Year of the Dragon -- Kim herself in 1988, her older sister in 1976, her mother in 1952 and her niece in 2012.

“We jokingly say, ‘there are four dragons in our family,’” Kim said. When Kim was born 36 years ago, the year 1988 was dubbed a “double dragon” year, as those born that year are said to be brave and strong, Kim said.

“It could be superstitious, but it seems true that those born in the Year of the Dragon have a strong and independent character, looking at the four women in my family, including myself. They are proactive and very forward-looking, pioneering their own lives,” she said.

Kim's wish for the new year is to start her own family, and to marry someone who she will love for the rest of her life. In preparation to make her wish come true, Kim said she will put effort into purchasing a house -- even a small one -- on Jeju Island, her hometown, within the year.

Jasmine Baek (courtesy of Baek) Jasmine Baek (courtesy of Baek)

Jasmine Baek, also born in 1988, plans to return to work this year after she gave birth to her first child last year. Baek said she is gearing up to rediscover her “pre-mom identity” this year, as well as the routine she lost when she became a mother.

“I would like to be more kind to myself and allow more time for self-reflection because I think I have been pretty harsh on myself for the past six months, having a newborn, not feeling like a competent mother and not feeling like I am enough for my baby. So I think taking better care for myself mentally is a big thing and that will help me rediscover my pre-mom personality,” she said.

“I also have some minor but more concrete (goals). For example, I want to minimize my phone usage in bed specifically. I don’t think I could ever do a digital detox, but (I want to at) least try to disconnect from my phone during certain allotted hours to sleep better at night,” she added.

Baek jokingly said that although she does not particularly give a meaning to the Chinese zodiac, if she could have a second child, she wanted to give birth in the Year of the Dragon so that her baby may have the same zodiac sign as her. She noted that the plan seems to be unachievable for now as the year has come right after her child was born.

Song Chae-rim (courtesy of Song) Song Chae-rim (courtesy of Song)

Song Chae-rim, 23, was born in the new millennium -- also in the Year of the Dragon in 2000. As a college student on the threshold of graduation and majoring in sports education, Song hopes many of her friends will be able to find a job this year.

“It looks like it is really hard to get a job these days as the economy is not good. Many companies also prefer those who already have a career rather than those who do not have any job experience, like us,” Song said.

Song runs a running club in Seoul, which is open for anyone born in 2000.

“I was lucky enough to find a job before I graduate, about three weeks ago. But many of my friends are still struggling to find their place in the job market. I heard this year is the last year of ‘samjae’ for those born in the Year of the Dragon -- so hopefully, things go more smoothly this year,” she added.

"Samjae," meaning three disasters spanning for three years based on zodiac birth signs, has been said to afflict people in nine-year cycles, according to Korean philosophers and those who believe in "saju," or the four pillars of destiny.

Park Bo-yeun (courtesy of Park) Park Bo-yeun (courtesy of Park)

Born in 1976, Park Bo-yeun is a jeweler based in Seoul who works with silver. Park, who runs a jewelry shop in Yeonnam-dong, Seoul, has a new goal in her career -- to make up-cycled silver jewelry for her customers.

“I feel satisfied when I craft things that are meaningful for people. I want to run more classes for those who wish to create their own jewelry out of silver products that, while meaningful to them, are not really used, such as from silver spoons or chopsticks that are kept in their houses,” she said.

Park said she gets a lot of inspiration from the sea, as she loves underwater activities.

An Nam-gi (right) (courtesy of An) An Nam-gi (right) (courtesy of An)

An Nam-gi, 71, recalled how many people struggled and had a difficult life when she was little in the 1950s and 1960s in the wake of the Korean War (1950-1953). An was born in 1952 during the war.

“It is really surprising how we have made this much progress over the past few decades. But we have been having a hard time again in the past few years due to the pandemic. It looks like we are facing another challenge in terms of the economic and political situation in the aftermath of the pandemic and the ongoing wars in the world,” she said.

“As a Christian, I don’t really believe the myths of the Chinese zodiac, but a dragon is widely considered to be a symbol of fortune, so hopefully this year is full of luck for everybody who has their own wishes for the new year,” she said.

The Chinese zodiac consists of 12 animals, repeating in a 12-year cycle. The animal signs are the rat, the ox, the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the sheep, the monkey, the rooster, the dog and the pig.