[FOUNTAIN] Born in the Year of the Dog

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[FOUNTAIN] Born in the Year of the Dog

"Nineteen fifty-eight, the Year of the Dog / Born on the 5th of May, I was / The village elders / They said, Born on a good day / You'll make a good living, make a name for yourself / Like they said / I made a name for myself / Making a good living / I'll trade it for nothing in the world / Doing some good work, as a laborer / Income tax, residence tax / Never missed paying / Never missed a date / Never accepted a free drink / Never been a fraud..."

So goes the poem, "Born in '58, the Year of the Dog," by Seo Jeong-hong, about the life of an average man born that year. Over time, the expression "Born in '58, the Year of the Dog" has come to possess a peculiar quality. More than a few movies were made about this generation, and a play about a woman born in 1958, titled "The Year of the Dog: Above the Year of the Dragon," was once the talk of the town.

The year 1958 was the height of the post-war baby boom, and so many were born that there was even a popular expression, "like a pack of dogs." Growing up, they would live through fierce competition entering university and finding jobs, and, when finally they thought they had won the battle, the financial crisis hit them and hit them hard. A new novel by Eun Hui-kyeong, "Minor League," is about four men born in 1958. As it takes them through events both personal and historical, one of the characters mutters, "The destiny we were born with is that, no matter where we go, there is a crowd running us over."

Ten members of the National Assembly's 273 representatives were born in 1958. Representative Choo Mi-ae of the Millennium Democratic Party described them as "a generation that is not too progressive, not too conservative." Unlike the generation that immediately followed them, she said, they were beaten down by an overly harsh society, and the core group of the generation was never able to move into the center of society.

Grand National Party Representative Shim Jae-chul thinks otherwise. "Ours is a versatile generation," he said, "one that has been through an extraordinary range of experiences during our lives." He said, "We lived through the hard times when food was hard to come by, and saw the bright and dark sides of industrial development later on. Then relatively late in our lives, when we were nearly 40, the information technology boom hit, and we barely caught up with the trend."

Those born in the Year of the Dog are now in their mid-40s. It is for them, now, while at the age when they can contribute most to society, to sort through the experiences and wisdom that endow them with explosive potential, and to do good, in every corner of society, wherever they are.

by Noh Jae-hyun

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