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1958: The Year of the Dog

Posted December. 31, 2005 06:17,   


The zodiac sign of people born in 1958 is the Dog. People summarize the characteristics of those born in the Year of the Dog in three categories: affection, loyalty and running ability.

Cheon created an online community just for people born in 1958 in 2002. Many of the 1,300 members of the community held a gathering to welcome the upcoming Year of Dog.

“Our community is unique because members become very close right after subscribing by confiding their stories with other members. Those stories are not just complaints. Members help each other by recommending work to the unemployed, recommending good doctors, or participating in other members’ occasions for congratulations and condolences.”

“Then, why are people born in 1958, the Year of Dog, becoming the talk of so many people in Korean society?”

“This is probably because the generation was born at the peak of a baby boom after the Korean War.”

The generally accepted idea that the number of people born in 1958 is the highest in Korea can be attributed to the 1960 Census. It showed that the number of people born in that year exceeded one million, which is much higher than the number of people born before 1957 (about 900,000) and people born between 1959 and 1960 (800,000). Demographers, however, point out that census figures collected before 1970 are not necessarily reliable.

People born in 1958 are commonly called members of the “lottery generation” because they received a cold shoulder from seniors in school after the middle school entrance examination system was abolished two years before they entered middle school. They also were shunned because the unified high school entrance examination was introduced and the high school entrance examination system was repealed in 1974 when they entered high school.

Moreover, the fact that the school entrance system changed when former President Park Jeong-hee’s son Ji-man, who was also born in 1958, entered middle school and high school also played a role in imprinting the 1958 Dog Generation in Korean people’s minds.

Yet, the Dog Generation says that the real reason is perhaps because of the combination of it being a generation free from competition for school entrance examinations and the dog’s outgoing and open image.

“We have always been sandwiched. Our generation is almost anonymous in terms of Korea’s history of democratization between student activists during the Revitalizing Reform period and the 386 Generation. In terms of culture, we are also in between the folk music generation of the 1970s and the ballad music generation of the 1980s.”

“At a time when people our age started work and got married, real estate prices skyrocketed. When we reached middle-manager levels in our 40s, we were the target of restructuring because the Asian financial crisis hit Korea in the late 1990s.”

“I think that is why people mention the 1958 Dog Generation when they talk about a person who has tasted the sweetness and bitterness of life.”

“I agree. I believe the current 1958 Dog Generation myth that they have a strong sense of equality, solidarity and ability to survive in any circumstances was created based on the unique historical background they grew up in, and because of the natural characteristics of dogs.”

“The marathon club of the 1958 Dog Generation that I am running in has 460 members who completed a 42.195km full-course marathon. They can run well, and with tenacity, possibly because they were born in 1958, the Year of the Dog.”

People in the gathering shouted with determination: “In the New Dog’s Year of 2006, we are committed to cherishing hope in our minds, sweating away our ordeals, and running powerfully.”

Chae-Hyun Kwon confetti@donga.com jaykim@donga.com