A flock of sheep peacefully plucking grass in the meadow. This is a pastoral scenery familiar to Korea`s older generations. This image was frequently seen in pictures hung up in barbershops from the 1950s to the 1980s. Cheap reproductions made for mass sales are no longer available yet the flock of sheep in a quiet scene are remembered in people`s minds as a symbol of peace and happiness.
The year 2015, or the Year of the Sheep, has just begun. Sheep are a grass-eating, mild-mannered animal. As in the word scapegoat, sheep sometimes are considered a symbol of sacrificial victim, but the word also contains meaning of goodness, beauty and justice, all of which have positive and auspicious meaning. Sheep are a valuable animal as its hair, skin, and lamb meat are all used. In oriental medicine, lamb is considered health products that boost stamina. Woolen blankets that control moisture according to external conditions are also popular.
Sheep grew with human being in old times. According to archeology, sheep`s jawbones are excavated along with relics of the Old Stone Age. A clause in the Old Testament writes Abel cultivating Cain`s soil by raising sheep. As such, sheep are often mentioned in the Bible. Korean ancestors regarded sheep as good omen. Literary works have records of sheep sent as gifts in the age of Three Kingdoms. Big events occurred in the Year of Sheep. One is the invasion of Ganghwa Island by three U.S. warships in 1871, March 1st Movement in 1919 and October 26 incident in 1979.
Sheep were raised as livestock in Central Asia highlands about 10,000 years ago. A fable "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" that stars a little shepherd is familiar to little children. The story has a lesson of the shepherd`s constant lying bringing about huge side effects, which should be reflected upon more by adults. A growing number of people are spreading false information on the Internet and social media, which is causing chaos and corruption to the society. Sheep move in packs but are always harmonious and never fight. In this new Year of Sheep, let`s hope for a conflict-free world.