Happy Year of the Rabbit! A Guide to the Korean Zodiac 🐰

2023 is the year of the Water Rabbit. The Lunar New Year starts on January 22, 2023, and ends on February 9, 2024. The Rabbit is the fourth animal in the Korean zodiac and is associated with traits such as gentleness, kindness, and diplomacy. When combined with the water element, which is associated with creativity, intuition, and flexibility, the Year of the Water Rabbit is thought to be a time of harmony, creativity, peace and luck.

People born under the sign of the Rabbit are kind, friendly, intelligent, cautious, skillful, gentle, and quick. They dislike conflict and like to find solutions through compromise and negotiation. On the negative side, Rabbit people have the potential to be superficial, secretive, stubborn, melancholy, and indecisive.

Which animals will thrive in the Year of the Rabbit? The animals that will have a great year are those that are compatible with the Rabbit—namely, the Sheep, Dog and Pig. Each of these animals will see a wealth of opportunities for growth in their careers, relationships or creative passions. 

Which signs will have more difficulty in the Year of the Rabbit? Dragons, Snakes, Roosters and Rats—you will clash with the Rabbit energy this year but don’t fret. A little additional stress is nothing that can’t be overcome with some patience and perseverance.

Thanks to a new law passed in Korea late last year, all citizens are about to get a bit of luck this year and become a year or two younger. Koreans have traditionally added a year to their age on Lunar New Year’s Day but that will change this year.

Under the traditional system, babies were considered a year old on the day they were born, with a year added every New Year’s Day, which made their Korean age a year or two older than their “international age”. However, as of June 2023, this ancient (and often confusing) system will end, and Korea will follow the global standard where everyone ages on their personal birthday. Strange but true!

What is the Korean Zodiac or ddi?

The Korean zodiac is believed to have originated in China during the Han Dynasty over 2000 years ago. Many Asian cultures including Korea still use it today. Ddi refers to your zodiac animal based on the year you were born and it’s a big deal in Korea. A very common question you will hear among Koreans is ‘What’s your Ddi?’. When someone asks about your ddi, they are not only getting a sense of your personality as people in the West do with signs of the zodiac, but they may also be working out your age or making decisions about compatibility.

Though traditional superstitions are waning in Korea, many Koreans still consider the representative animal of each year when making choices in career, finance, and marriage.

One’s ddi is so important in Korean superstition that you will often see a bumper crop of babies born on years considered to be extra lucky such as 2019, which was the year of the golden pig. The Korean zodiac is also important in matchmaking as some animals are thought to be more compatible than others. 

korean zodiac, chinese zodiac

The 12 Animals of the Korean Zodiac

Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.

Each year of the Korean zodiac is defined by an animal and is repeated every twelve years. Every animal has specific characteristics, which are shared by people born in their year. But remember that the animals are based on the Lunar calendar, so if your birthday is in January of 1969 you are not a rooster but a monkey.

The order of the animals is said to be a result of a contest between the animals. When the gods wanted to decide which of them would be first, they had all the animals swim across a river to determine the order. The animals’ place would be decided by the order in which they reached the opposite bank. According to some legends about the Korean zodiac, the clever rat secretly jumped on the ox’s back and hitched a ride. But other stories have the ox generously agreeing to give the rat a ride. In both versions as they approached the shore, the rat jumped off the oxen’s head and earned himself first place, with the ox following in second.

The Rat

Rat years: 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020

The clever rat won the race to the gods and the Rat Year is a time of hard work, activity, and renewal.  This is a good year to begin a new job, get married, launch a product or make a fresh start.  People born in a Rat year are said to be logical realists, shrewd, charming, ambitious, and inventive.  People born in the Year of Rat are clever and bright, sociable and family-minded.  They have broad interests and strong ability in adapting to the environment and are able to react accordingly to any changes. In the East, the rat is viewed in a more positive light than in the West.

Rat Compatibility:

  • Most compatible with Dragons and Monkeys
  • Least compatible with Horses
  • In Korean the Rat is written as  쥐/ Jwi

The Ox

Ox years: 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021

The Ox symbolizes prosperity through fortitude and hard work. Those born under the influence of the Ox are seen as stable and persevering. The typical Ox is a tolerant person with strong character. Not many people could equal the resolution and fearlessness that the Ox exhibits when deciding to accomplish a task. Ox people work hard without complaints at work or at home. They know that they will succeed through hard work and sustained efforts, and do not believe in get-rich-quick schemes.

Ox Compatibility:

  • Most compatible with Snakes and Roosters
  • Least compatible with Sheep
  • In Korean the Ox is written as  소/So

The Tiger

Tiger years: 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022

Tiger people are seen as sensitive, given to deep thinking and capable of great sympathy. They can be extremely short-tempered, however. Other people have great respect for them, but sometimes tiger people come into conflict with older people or those in authority. They sometimes cannot make up their minds, which can result in a poor, hasty decision or a sound decision arrived at too late. They can be suspicious of others, but also courageous and powerful. Every 60 years comes the Year of the White Tiger in the Korean zodiac, 2010 was one such year. Some consider the year of the White Tiger to be an unlucky year, while others maintain the opposite is true.

Tiger Compatibility:

  • Most compatible with Horses and Dogs
  • Least compatible with Monkeys
  • In Korean the Tiger is written as  호랑이/Horangi

The Rabbit

Rabbit years: 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023

korean zodiac

The Rabbit is a lucky sign in the Korean zodiac. Rabbits are private individuals and a bit introverted. People born in the Year of the Rabbit are reasonably friendly individuals who enjoy the company of a group of good friends. They are good teachers, counselors and communicators but also need their own space.

Rabbit Compatibility:

  • Most compatible with Sheep and Pigs
  • Least compatible with Roosters
  • In Korean the Rabbit is written as  토끼/Tokki

The Dragon

Dragon years: 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024

chinese zodiac

The Dragon is the mightiest of the signs. Dragons symbolize such character traits as dominance and ambition. They prefer to live by their own rules and if left on their own, are usually successful. They’re driven, unafraid of challenge and willing to take risks. They’re passionate in all they do and they do things in grand fashion. While Dragons frequently help others, rarely will they ask for help. Many are attracted to Dragons, especially their colorful personalities, but deep down, Dragons prefer to be alone.

Dragon Compatibility:

  • Most compatible with Monkeys and Rats
  • Least compatible with Dogs
  • In Korean the Dragon is written as 용/Yong

The Snake

Snake years: 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025

The snake is the most enigmatic, intuitive, introspective, refined and collected in the Korean zodiac.   People born in the Year of the Snake are keen and cunning, quite intelligent and wise.  They are great mediators and good at doing business.  

Snake Compatibility:

  • Most compatible with Roosters and Oxen
  • Least compatible with Pigs
  • In Korean the Snake is written as 뱀/Baem

The Horse

Horse years: 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026

People born in the Year of the Horse are popular. They are seen as cheerful, skillful with money and perceptive, although they sometimes talk too much. They are wise, talented, good with their hands and sometimes have a weakness for members of the opposite sex. They are impatient and hot-blooded about everything except their daily work. They like entertainment and large crowds. They are very independent and rarely listen to advice. For this reason, in Korea, women born in the year of the horse were not desirable brides – they were said to be too independent, especially those born in the year of the white horse, which last occurred in 2002.

Horse Compatibility:

  • Most compatible with Dogs and Tigers
  • Least compatible with Rats
  • In Korean the Horse is written as 말/Mal

The Sheep

Sheep years: 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027

Year of the Sheep. People born in the year of the Sheep are described as elegant, intelligent, dependable, calm individuals, who are very creative and often accomplished artists. They can be shy, pessimistic and puzzled about life and prefer to be alone. Most despise being the center of attention but enjoy being part of a group.

Sheep Compatibility:

  • Most compatible with Pigs and Rabbits
  • Least compatible with Oxen
  • In Korean the Sheep is written as 양/Yang

The Monkey

Monkey years: 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028

People born in the Year of the Monkey are the erratic geniuses of the animal signs. Clever, skillful, and flexible, they are remarkably inventive and original and can solve the most difficult problems with ease. They are good at assessing risk and financial problems. Monkeys are the ultimate diplomats and slip in and out of sticky situations with ease. 

Monkey Compatibility:

  • Most compatible with Rats and Dragons
  • Least compatible with Tigers
  • In Korean the Monkey is written as 원숭이/Wonsungi

The Rooster

Rooster years: 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029

Persons born in a Rooster year are said to be shrewd, industrious, outspoken and definite when making decisions. Many are extravagant and have a bit of the dreamer in them. In a Rooster year, it is important to consider all the positives and negatives before making major decisions. Read the fine print carefully, because that is where unpleasant surprises reside. It takes hard work to maintain partnerships begun in a Rooster year.

Rooster Compatibility:

  • Most compatible with Oxen and Snakes
  • Least compatible with Rabbits
  • In Korean the Rooster is written as 닭/Dalk

The Dog

Dog years: 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030

People born in the Year of the Dog possess the best traits of human nature. They have a deep sense of loyalty, are honest and inspire other people’s confidence because they know how to keep secrets. They can also be somewhat selfish, terribly stubborn and eccentric. They care little for wealth, yet somehow always seem to have money. Dog sign people make good leaders.

Dog Compatibility:

  • Most compatible with Tigers and Horses
  • Least compatible with Dragons
  • In Korean the Dog is written as 개/Gae

The Pig

Pig years: 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031

The Pig is the last of the animal sign cycle and is often associated with luck, fertility and virility. People born in the Year of the Pig are said to be chivalrous and gallant. They don’t make many friends but they make them for life. It is said that anyone having a Boar Year friend is fortunate for they are extremely loyal. They don’t talk much but have a great thirst for knowledge. They study a great deal and are generally well informed. 

Pig Compatibility:

  • Pig compatible with Rabbits and Sheep
  • Least compatible with Snakes
  • In Korean the Pig is written as 돼지/Dwaeji

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One thought on “Happy Year of the Rabbit! A Guide to the Korean Zodiac 🐰

  • February 25, 2023 at 4:44 pm

    Reading your article helped me a lot and I agree with you. But I still have some doubts, can you clarify for me? I’ll keep an eye out for your answers.

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