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Who'll be 'lucky' in the new year? Who has to watch out?

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : Dec. 30, 2023 - 16:01

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Children are drawing dragons in anticipation of the new year, which is the year of the blue dragon according to the Chinese zodiac, at a day care center in Gwangju on Wednesday. (Yonhap) Children are drawing dragons in anticipation of the new year, which is the year of the blue dragon according to the Chinese zodiac, at a day care center in Gwangju on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

Chinese zodiac is a system of belief that assigns an animal to each year and assumes one's fate is closely linked to this classification. As such, there are "lucky" and "unlucky" years for each person.

In the year 2024, which is the year of the blue dragon, those born in the year of the monkey are expected to be lucky. The dragon and the monkey are part of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac system, in the order of: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, chicken, dog and pig.

This series repeats in a 12-year cycle, and there is also a sexagenary cycle that defines each year by 60 different categories. The year 2023 was the year of a black rabbit, and 2024 is the year of the blue dragon, or a "gapjin" year.

One can easily calculate which year they were born according to the 12-year pattern. Years of the monkey were 2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968 and so forth.

What's ironic is that those born in the monkey year are also among the people expected to be unlucky in 2024 according to another belief here. There is a Korean traditional belief that there is a three-year pattern of bad luck, which arrives every nine years.

This is called "samjae," meaning three disasters: disasters from the sky, disasters on Earth and disasters by people. Those born in the year of the monkey, dragon and rat are in the last year of their samjae.

Years of the dragon are 2024, 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964 and so forth, while years of the rat are 2020, 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960 and so forth.

While those born in monkey years have good chemistry with a gapjin year, those born in the year of the rat have particularly bad chemistry with 2024. Coupled with the aforementioned samjae, the prospect for the new year does not look pretty for those born in rat years, at least according to the Korean traditional belief.