Korea’s Traditional Culture: Sibijisin Story

by Korea Tourism Organization
Stripes Korea

2017 is the “Year of the Rooster,” following the Oriental zodiac. The rooster is the tenth in the group of twelve animal guardian deities collectively known as the Sibijisin, which literally means "Twelve (sibi) Gods of the Earth (jisin)." The animals of the Sibijisin in order are the mouse, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.

In ancient times, Koreans referred to the twelve animals to indicate direction and to measure the hours of the day. For example, the hours between 05:00 and 07:00 were called "Myosi" (Time of the Rabbit), and the hours between 13:00 and 15:00 were "Misi" (Time of the Sheep). The entire day was divided into twelve different "times," each represented by one of the twelve animals. These twelve guardians were thought to block bad things during their appointed times. As the animals have long been revered as guardians against evil spirits, their statues were built around many royal tombs and sites.

Moreover, each year is marked by a jisin; since there are twelve jisins, the cycle repeats every 12 years. It is traditionally believed that people possess the personality of the animal that marks their birth year. Therefore, the year and the time of birth are often used to determine one’s personality and fate.

Meaning of the Sibiji

  Animal Time Month Direction
Ja Mouse 23:00-01:00 Nov N
Chuk Ox 01:00-03:00 Dec NNE
In Tiger 03:00-05:00 Jan ENE
Myo Rabbit 05:00-07:00 Feb E
Jin Dragon 07:00-09:00 Mar ESE
Sa Snake 09:00-11:00 Apr SSE
O Horse 11:00-13:00 May S
Mi Sheep 13:00-15:00 Jun SSW
Sin Monkey 15:00-17:00 Jul WSW
Yu Rooster 17:00-19:00 Aug W
Sul Dog 19:00-21:00 Sep WNW
Hae Pig 21:00-23:00 Oct NNW

* Directions: N-North, S-South, E-East, W-West

Just for Fun: Birth Year Personality Test


Mouse (1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008)
People born in the year of the mouse are frugal, honest, and hardworking. They are also witty and efficient. However, their soft hearts may make them become wary of others, and lead to conflicts.

Ox (1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009)
People born in the year of the ox are honest, charismatic, patient and hardworking. They do not like to fail, either in career or love.
Tiger (1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010)
People born in the year of the tiger are passionate, honest, optimistic, and proactive. Honor and glory are their biggest motivations. However, their passion for success may lead to recklessness.
Rabbit (1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011)
People born in the year of the rabbit are sensitive, humorous, and talented. They are artists. In attaining success, they tend to put little effort in their endeavors, relying too much on their talent instead.
Dragon (1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012)
People born in the year of the dragon are adventurous, emotional and efficient. However, they may get caught up in daydreaming of a romantic lifestyle, or become too arrogant.
Snake (1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013)
People born in the year of the snake are ambitious and hardworking. They are perfectionists. However, their overly perfectionist personality often results in self-doubt.
Horse (1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014)
People born in the year of the horse are cheerful, open-minded and consistent. However, they have a tendency to be arrogant.
Sheep (1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015)
People born in the year of the sheep are compassionate and peaceful. However, they are also fearful and indecisive.
Monkey (1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016)
People born in the year of the monkey are social, cheerful, and positive. However, they lack tenacity.
Rooster (1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017)
People born in the year of the rooster are intelligent and courageous. They are also well organized. However, they can also be self-centered and stubborn.
Dog (1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018)
People born in the year of the dog are honest, cheerful, sympathetic and responsible.
Pig (1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007)
People born in the year of the pig are honest, simple and tough-minded. Many are hardworking. However, their indecisiveness may hinder self-development.

*Above story is related to Korea’s traditional ideology

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