USAG YONGSAN - More than 1 million people in Korea gathered to watch the Bosingak Bell ring Jan. 31, 2017, and an estimated 10 million people watched it live on television. The sound of the bell symbolizes people's hopes and dreams for 2018 resonating into the atmosphere -- so high that they could only come true. The passion and excitement of people wanting to greet and celebrate the New Year represent the eagerness for a fresh start.
On the same note, according to the Chinese zodiac, 2018 is the Year of the Dog. In general, the Chinese zodiac is an ancient analysis of a repeating 12-year cycle by assigning twelve different animals to symbolize each year. The 12-year cycle is based on the 11.86-year orbital period of the largest planet in the galaxy, Jupiter, and the twelve animals representing the zodiac are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.
The classification of the twelve animals representing the 12-year cycle originates from an ancient folk story, "The Great Race." Once upon a time, the Jade Emperor summoned all animals on the planet, decreeing that the years of the calendar would be named after each animal in the order they arrived to greet him. The rat came in first place by hitching a ride on the ox's back. The ox and tiger came in second and third by virtue of their natural strength.
The rabbit arrived fourth by jumping from one stone to another. The dragon, in spite of its ability to fly, came in fifth as it had to stop and make rain to help all the creatures on earth. The horse and snake came in at the same time, but the snake's sudden appearance frightened the horse to pass the snake, which came in sixth. The goat, monkey, and rooster came in side by side by helping each other swim through the river. The dog and pig arrived last.
Most interestingly, each Chinese zodiac animal has its own distinct characteristics which, according to popular belief, correlate with the personalities of those born in that specific year cycle. The year 2018 is the Year of the Dog. People born in the Year of the Dog are said to possess the best traits of human nature. They have a deep sense of loyalty, honesty, and responsibility to inspire others to feel confident in front of them. However, this does not mean that they are easy. They can become extremely selfish, stubborn, and eccentric. As a result, people of the Dog Year often have good leadership skills as they can be both responsible and selfish regarding certain circumstances.
Surprisingly, three of the five former presidents of the United States were born in the Year of the Dog. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were both born in 1946. President Donald Trump was also born in 1946. Moreover, Mother Theresa and Benjamin Franklin, leaders in their own right and iconic figures of their time, were all born in the Year of the Dog.
Although the Chinese zodiac is based on a myth and mostly embraced by Asian cultures, it is popular for its friendly and interesting classification of the zodiac. Koreans have historically utilized the Chinese zodiac as a 12-year calendar and to define people's personality. As 2018 is the Year of the Dog, great leaders are expected to be born all over the world.