TheKoreaTimes (2004.12) [New Year Special] 2005: The Year of the Rooster

By Park Chung-a
Staff Reporter

The year 2005 is the Year of the Rooster , according to the Chinese Zodiac. The rooster has traditionally been considered to be a good sign as its crow meant the break of dawn, the beginning of a fresh start. People believed that ghosts and evil spirits afraid of the light would disappear when a rooster crowed. Thus, even though rooster s were raised for food, it was also a spiritual animal that drove away demons.

When the New Year came, our ancestors used to place rooster paintings on the walls to drive away ghosts and bring in good luck.

According to the records of the Koryo Kingdom (918-1392), rooster s were reared in the royal court for keeping time as there were no clocks in that era. People would also take chickens or rooster s with them when they went on long trips to know what time it was.

Among the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac, the rooster is the only one with wings. It has been regarded as the messenger that connects the two worlds, heaven and earth.

The rooster is historically known to have five virtues: knowledge, military expertise, courage, benevolence and credibility.

The rooster 's crest is called ``pyosul'' in Korean and ``kwan'' in Chinese, which means coronet as well as government post. The coronet on its head represents the pen meaning knowledge, while its claw symbolizes the sword, corresponding to military skills. When confronted by an enemy, it fights till the end without ever retreating, testifying to its quality of courage. Also, when the rooster finds food, it cries out and shares it with other animals, showing benevolence. Lastly, it never fails to crow on time, informing people of the break of day, demonstrating great credibility.

Korean people have been very close to fowls since ancient times as it is mentioned in the birth myth of Kim Al-ji, recorded in Samguksagi (The History of the Three Kingdoms) and Samgukyusa (The Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms) from the Silla Kingdom (B.C. 57-935 A.D.). The myth can be summarized as follows: one day a king heard a rooster 's crow from the west forest. He had his servant find out what was making that sound. It turned out that a gold-shining chest was hanging from the branch of a tree and a white rooster was crowing beneath it. Soon, a child came out of the dazzling coffer. He later became the founder of the Kyongju Kim clan.

The rooster is the 10th animal of the 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac. The last rooster year was 1993 and the next one to come after 2005 is 2017. Those born in rooster years are believed to be confident people with a strong desire to be constantly at the center of attention. Cheery, sharp and humorous, the magnificent Rooster will never pass up an opportunity to recount their adventures and specify their accomplishments. However, they can be a little vain and annoying sometimes. They try their best to look into the faults of others and can sometimes come across as boastful, according to Chinese Zodiac.

Celebrating the year of the rooster , there will be various exhibitions featuring fowls as the main theme.

From this Thursday through Jan. 28, a unique exhibition for rare kinds of fowls of various origins will be held in Seoul Grand Park in Kyonggi Province. Forty-four fowls of 22 species from all over the world will be shown, including ``chabo (Japanese fowl),'' known for their large tail carriage and short, clean legs. The chabo's tail is held forward and high, known as a squirrel-tail, which is a disqualification in most breeds. Red jungle fowl, a wild and omnivorous bird that eats plant seeds and roots, insects, frogs and lizards, will also be on display. On Sundays, eggs on which cute bird characters are drawn will be distributed to the first 150 guests. For more information, call (02) 500-7240/5.

At the National Folk Museum of Korea, an exhibition titled ``A Rooster That Breaks the Dawn'' will be held from this Wednesday through Feb. 28, aimed at explaining the cultural meaning and symbolism of the fowl. The highlight of the exhibition would be ``Kumgwedo (Picture of Golden Chest),'' describing the birth myth of Kim Al-ji that was mentioned above. Fowl sculptures unearthed from ancient tombs, considered to be among the finest artworks related to Chinese Zodiac animals, will also be displayed. Admission is free to those born in the year of rooster . The museum is closed on Tuesdays and Jan. 1. For more information, call (02) 3704-3152.

In the art gallery of the Hankook Ilbo Building in northern Seoul, artist Suh Gong-im, who has been working on traditional folk paintings featuring dragons and tigers for 25 years, will demonstrate her artistic world through various description of fowls from Jan. 5 through Feb. 13. The gallery is closed on Saturdays. For more information, call (02) 724-2882~3.