The Korea Herald


[Kim Seong-kon] Rise and shine in the Year of the Dog

By Kim Seong-kon

Published : Jan. 2, 2018 - 17:47

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According to the Chinese zodiac, 2018 is the year of the dog. It is believed that those who are born in the year of the dog are independent, faithful, and loyal. Dogs are man’s best friend who can understand the human mind better than any other animal. Indeed, there are many stories of a loyal dog saving his master’s life at the cost of his own. No other domestic animal would or could do it. Perhaps that is why Koreans, who value loyalty, prefer dogs to cats.

This sign has its downsides too. The horoscope says that people who are born in the year of the dog can be self-righteous, stubborn, and critical of others. In 2018, we should try very hard to avoid these negative traits and exhibit humility, flexibility, and generosity instead. And like a dog, we should be smart, and get along with others, including our neighboring countries, whether geographically or spiritually. We will not be able to survive with questionable social and diplomatic skills.

In the year of the dog, we should be loyal to our allies and friendly to other nations. At the same time, we should boldly protest when a bigger country deliberately bullies us or openly humiliates us with imperialistic arrogance. With a keen dog’s nose, we should sniff around to discern who our true friends and enemies are, so we do not bark up the wrong tree. Like a cute puppy, we should be adored by stronger countries and smart enough to not to be hated by other nations.

There is a saying that three disasters are likely to happen when it is the year of the dog. First, you or your family may meet with misfortune. Second, you may be humiliated publicly. Third, you may lose your fortune and honor. The three disasters can also happen to Korea unless we are super-cautious and well-prepared. Suppose there is a major clash between North Korea and the United States, suppose a second Korean War breaks out on the peninsula, or suppose South Korea falls into the wrong hands as a result of the negotiation between China, North Korea, and the States. Surely, then, the three disasters will come upon us.

The current situation is quite precarious. It all depends on how we act. If we unwisely make the wrong choice, we will definitely end up humiliating ourselves in the international community, ruining our family and losing everything we have accomplished. On the contrary, if we are wise enough to choose the right path in 2018, we will not only survive but also thrive in the years to come.

There are good dogs and bad dogs in the world. There are also mad dogs that carry the deadly rabies virus. In the year of the dog, we should try to be a good dog and be aware of bad or mad dogs that might bite us with their deadly teeth. If we confuse a good dog with a bad dog and blindly follow the latter, we will be doomed. It is our call after all and it is we who should decide our destiny.

They say that one of the characteristics of a dog is “action.” But you should act at your discretion because you are responsible for your actions. The horoscope says that the dog “spreads the sound of justice” and “is devoted to his ideals but complies with the rules set by the majority.” “The horoscope also warns, “Due to his high standard of morality and idealism, he has a tendency to go beyond his limits and can demand excessive loyalty and obedience from others.” A dog is also a good fighter so “any problems will be dealt with directly, purposely, and with no restraints.” This is all too familiar in our society these days. We should exercise discretion in order to avoid the above undesirable tendency.

In the year of the dog, South Korea should restore her long-lost honor by letting the world know that Korea is no longer a dog-eating country. In South Korea, more than 10 million people keep pets, mostly puppies and dogs, and as a result, dogs are treated like family members. Even in the past, Koreans had to go a long way to find a designated restaurant to taste dog meat. No supermarkets in Korea sell dog meat.

If we are unlucky, we may witness the final clash between North Korea and America in 2018, if negotiation attempts fail. Or we may see the signing of the Peace Treaty and the beginning of the ensuing pullout of the US troops from the Korean Peninsula. Either way, South Korea will be in big trouble. If Washington chooses a pre-emptive strike on North Korea, Seoul would not be able to avoid retaliation from the North. If the Peace Treaty is signed, South Korea will be left vulnerable to aggression from the North.

In 2018, I hope we will stay away from the kennels full of ferocious snarling dogs. I hope we will live peacefully and usefully like a guide dog that is adored by the international community. 

By Kim Seong-kon

Kim Seong-kon is a professor emeritus of English at Seoul National University and distinguished visiting professor at George Washington University. He can be reached at –Ed.