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01/15/2018 Special > Special


Say Hello to 2018, the Year of Golden Dogs!

Dogs in Korean history


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Another year has come to an end, and now we have started a new year with golden dogs. 2018, also known as ‘mu-sul’ year according to the Chinese zodiac, stands for the year of golden dogs. ‘Mu(戊)’, stands for a big soil mountain, which represents the color yellow and gold. ‘Sul(戌)’ represents the 11th animal of the Chinese Zodiac, a dog, which represents the image of activeness. This year, therefore, prays for an affluent, enthusiastic year for all citizens. The main character of this year, dogs, had close relationships with human beings throughout the changes in generations.
2018 is the year of golden dogs.
(Photo courtesy of Woman Travellers)

Dogs in the past

Dogs are known to be one of the first domestic animals people have raised. They are known as creatures evolved from wolves, as wolves were tamed by human beings who hunted and collected plants. The history of man and dog started since then by mutually helping each other. Dogs were able to maintain their lives through the food people gave, and protected people and their houses from possible danger.

Korea’s native dog, the Jindo dog has a strong homing instinct and intrepidity. They have an upright characteristic, never betraying the family members that looked after them. Sapsal dog, a dog fully covered with long fur, has an old saying ‘A ghost cannot even consider approaching near a Sapsal dog’, due to their ascetic-like-appearance. The Pungsan dog has been favored as a hunting dog, due to their outstanding reactiveness and endurance. They are known to be courageous and bold that there used to be a saying you can catch a tiger with two Pungsan dogs.
Sapsal dogs have their unique characteristics of long furs covering their bodies.
(Photo courtesy of Chosun News)

However, at the same time, a lot of the dogs were utilized as a ‘health food’ in Korea. As a lot of Koreans lacked protein in their daily food, ‘dogs’ were one of their few options. Since pigs or cows were two expensive to consume as a food, most of the dogs except for the ones used for hunting were set on the table. In a record of <Dongguksesigi> containing the customs of Joseon dynasty, a written record is left that a lot of citizens ate dog-soups in Boknal (Click HERE for more information). Moreover, there is a record dog meat was placed on a royal family’s feast during the regime of King Jeong-jo.

Dogs in the current society

Nowadays, dogs are more familiarly called as ‘Ballyeogyeon’; ‘Ballyeo’ standing for a companion, and ‘gyeon’ standing for a dog. The awareness of dogs as a friend and a member of family is becoming higher as time passes, and now we are living in a country of 10 million pet population. Dogs have the closest relationships with human beings and are called symbols of loyalty. There are increasing research results that pets give positive influences to the health of those raising them.

There are however downsides to this rapidly increasing number of pets in Korea. Sixty thousand dogs are abandoned every year in Korea, solely counting the numbers figured by animal shelters. Proper responsibility of the owners and the support of the government seems to be required. 2017 was a year dog phobia (Click HERE for more information) being a big issue, due to the lack of awareness of petiquettes.

More attention should be required for the welfare of dogs.
(Photo courtesy of Dream Dictionary)

The increase of people embracing dogs as their family members has both its ups and downs. A brand new market has been created due to pet owners trying to provide better lifestyles for their pets. Dogs are now filling the empty spaces of people’s emotions with their unique sensation. Then or now, there is no doubt dogs are man’s best friend.

On Jung-yun
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