The Story of the Korean Zodiac

Like much of Asia, South Korea has a long history of observing the Chinese-style lunar calendar. It is for this reason that our Seattle Korean restaurant recognizes the familiar Chinese zodiac.

The legend behind the Chinese zodiac is told in many different ways. Some people will say that it started with Buddha inviting animals to witness his departure from Earth, while others claim it was China’s Jade Emperor inviting the animals to a celebration of his birthday. Some say that all animals were invited, and the only twelve animals who showed up were rewarded with a position on the calendar, while others tell that a competition was staged to see which animals would get the most esteemed positions on the calendar. Even the specific animals that belong in the calendar are somewhat contested. However, the most widely-accepted version places the rat in the first position, followed by the ox, the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the sheep, the monkey, the rooster, the dog, and finally the pig.