Dates

In Korea dates are generally written in year-month-day order.  This is true in both traditional and modern writings.  Here are some important HanJa characters that are placed after HanJa numbers to specify the year, month, and day:

Table 3.4 HanJa Vocabulary for Dates

HanJa HanGul Pronunciation Meaning
Nyeon Year
Weol Month

(Represented by the HanJa character for the moon)

Eel Day

(Represented by the HanJa character for the sun)

 

The following is an example of a date written in HanJa characters, as you would typically find in genealogy records.  Note however, that the example below is left-to-right (western or modern Korean style), but it would be formatted as top-to-bottom columns that are organized right-to-left across the page in a traditional genealogical record.

Table 3.5 Example HanJa Date

HanJa

HanGul

Literal Translation of HanJa Characters

Meaning

一九八五 年  十一 月  二十四 日

1985년 11월 24일

1985 year, 10 + 1 month, 2 10s + 4 day

1985th year, 11th month, 24th day

 

Lunar Calendar Years

Family genealogies often precede dates with the lunar calendar year.  In some cases, only the lunar calendar year is given.

Lunar calendar (음력, EumNyeok) years are represented by two HanJa characters.  The first HanJa character comes from a heavenly cycle of 10 characters.  The second HanJa character comes from an earthly cycle of 12 characters.  Together, these two characters form a 60-year cycle of lunar calendar years.  Every sixty years the cycle repeats.

Within the heavenly cycle there are five elements and another cycle of opposites.  The opposites Eum and Yang are represented in the Korean flag as the blue and red TaeGuk, meaning great extremes.  The blue stands for Eum, which is negative, dark, and cold.  The red stands for Yang, which is positive, bright, and hot.  The philosophy behind this symbol is that the opposites are in balance and harmony.  In the following table, Yang is represented as positive (+) and Eum is represented as negative (-).

image001

 

 

Table 3.6  Heavenly Cycle (1st HanJa Character in Lunar Year)

Heavenly Cycle HanJa HanGul Pronunciation Meaning
1 Gap Wood (+)
2 Eul Wood (-)
3 Byeong Fire (+)
4 Jeong Fire (-)
5 Mu Earth (+)
6 Gi Earth (-)
7 Gyeong Metal (+)
8 Shin Metal (-)
9 Im Water (+)
10 Gyae Water (-)

 

The Earthly cycle of 12 characters is similar to the Chinese zodiac.  The zodiac uses 12 Chinese characters for animals that represent the 12-year cycle.  The Chinese character representing these animals is shown in parentheses in the following Earthly Cycle table.  Some traditions consider the characteristics of the zodiac animals for birth years when matchmaking in an attempt to create compatible matches for arranged marriages.

Table 3.7  Earthly Cycle (2nd HanJa Character in Lunar Year)

Earthly Cycle HanJa HanGul Pronunciation Chinese Zodiac
1 Ja Rat (鼠)
2 Chuk Ox (牛)
3 In Tiger (虎)
4 Myo Rabbit (兔)
5 Jin Dragon  (龍)
6 Sa Snake (蛇)
7 Oh Horse (馬)
8 Mi Goat (羊)
9 Shin Monkey (猴)
10 Yu Rooster (雞)
11 Su Dog (狗)
12 Hae Pig (豬)

 

The following table is very useful for translating years from Korean genealogy records.  It shows sample years that are represented by each of the 60 combinations of heavenly and earthly cycles.  To identify years earlier than shown in the following table, subtract multiples of 60 years.  To go farther into the future than shown in the following table, add multiples of 60 years.  Note that the first HanJa character cycles every 10 years (heavenly cycle) and the second cycles every 12 years (earthly cycle) to form every combination of the two preceding tables.

Note that the years listed in the following table are “approximate” due to the fact that a lunar year does not completely align with a western calendar solar year.  Lunar years generally don’t start or end on precisely the same day as solar years, although the majority of the days in a given lunar and solar year do overlap.  Even today, many Koreans use traditional lunar calendars to celebrate Lunar New Year and lunar versions of birthdays.

Table 3.8  Lunar Calendar 60-Year Cycle

Lunar Year Cycle Heavenly Cycle Earthly Cycle Lunar Year HanJa Approximate Western Calendar Years (A.D.)

1

1

1

甲子

4, 64, 124, 184, 244, 304, 364, 424, 484, 544, 604, 664, 724, 784, 844, 904, 964, 1024, 1084, 1144, 1204, 1264, 1324, 1384, 1444, 1504, 1564, 1624, 1684, 1744, 1804, 1864, 1924, 1984

2

2

2

乙丑

5, 65, 125, 185, 245, 305, 365, 425, 485, 545, 605, 665, 725, 785, 845, 905, 965, 1025, 1085, 1145, 1205, 1265, 1325, 1385, 1445, 1505, 1565, 1625, 1685, 1745, 1805, 1865, 1925, 1985

3

3

3

丙寅

6, 66, 126, 186, 246, 306, 366, 426, 486, 546, 606, 666, 726, 786, 846, 906, 966, 1026, 1086, 1146, 1206, 1266, 1326, 1386, 1446, 1506, 1566, 1626, 1686, 1746, 1806, 1866, 1926, 1986

4

4

4

丁卯

7, 67, 127, 187, 247, 307, 367, 427, 487, 547, 607, 667, 727, 787, 847, 907, 967, 1027, 1087, 1147, 1207, 1267, 1327, 1387, 1447, 1507, 1567, 1627, 1687, 1747, 1807, 1867, 1927, 1987

5

5

5

戊辰

8, 68, 128, 188, 248, 308, 368, 428, 488, 548, 608, 668, 728, 788, 848, 908, 968, 1028, 1088, 1148, 1208, 1268, 1328, 1388, 1448, 1508, 1568, 1628, 1688, 1748, 1808, 1868, 1928, 1988

6

6

6

己巳

9, 69, 129, 189, 249, 309, 369, 429, 489, 549, 609, 669, 729, 789, 849, 909, 969, 1029, 1089, 1149, 1209, 1269, 1329, 1389, 1449, 1509, 1569, 1629, 1689, 1749, 1809, 1869, 1929, 1989

7

7

7

庚午

10, 70, 130, 190, 250, 310, 370, 430, 490, 550, 610, 670, 730, 790, 850, 910, 970, 1030, 1090, 1150, 1210, 1270, 1330, 1390, 1450, 1510, 1570, 1630, 1690, 1750, 1810, 1870, 1930, 1990

8

8

8

辛未

11, 71, 131, 191, 251, 311, 371, 431, 491, 551, 611, 671, 731, 791, 851, 911, 971, 1031, 1091, 1151, 1211, 1271, 1331, 1391, 1451, 1511, 1571, 1631, 1691, 1751, 1811, 1871, 1931, 1991

9

9

9

壬申

12, 72, 132, 192, 252, 312, 372, 432, 492, 552, 612, 672, 732, 792, 852, 912, 972, 1032, 1092, 1152, 1212, 1272, 1332, 1392, 1452, 1512, 1572, 1632, 1692, 1752, 1812, 1872, 1932, 1992

10

10

10

癸酉

13, 73, 133, 193, 253, 313, 373, 433, 493, 553, 613, 673, 733, 793, 853, 913, 973, 1033, 1093, 1153, 1213, 1273, 1333, 1393, 1453, 1513, 1573, 1633, 1693, 1753, 1813, 1873, 1933, 1993

11

1

11

甲戍

14, 74, 134, 194, 254, 314, 374, 434, 494, 554, 614, 674, 734, 794, 854, 914, 974, 1034, 1094, 1154, 1214, 1274, 1334, 1394, 1454, 1514, 1574, 1634, 1694, 1754, 1814, 1874, 1934, 1994

12

2

12

乙亥

15, 75, 135, 195, 255, 315, 375, 435, 495, 555, 615, 675, 735, 795, 855, 915, 975, 1035, 1095, 1155, 1215, 1275, 1335, 1395, 1455, 1515, 1575, 1635, 1695, 1755, 1815, 1875, 1935, 1995

13

3

1

丙子

16, 76, 136, 196, 256, 316, 376, 436, 496, 556, 616, 676, 736, 796, 856, 916, 976, 1036, 1096, 1156, 1216, 1276, 1336, 1396, 1456, 1516, 1576, 1636, 1696, 1756, 1816, 1876, 1936, 1996

14

4

2

丁丑

17, 77, 137, 197, 257, 317, 377, 437, 497, 557, 617, 677, 737, 797, 857, 917, 977, 1037, 1097, 1157, 1217, 1277, 1337, 1397, 1457, 1517, 1577, 1637, 1697, 1757, 1817, 1877, 1937, 1997

15

5

3

戊寅

18, 78, 138, 198, 258, 318, 378, 438, 498, 558, 618, 678, 738, 798, 858, 918, 978, 1038, 1098, 1158, 1218, 1278, 1338, 1398, 1458, 1518, 1578, 1638, 1698, 1758, 1818, 1878, 1938, 1998

16

6

4

己卯

19, 79, 139, 199, 259, 319, 379, 439, 499, 559, 619, 679, 739, 799, 859, 919, 979, 1039, 1099, 1159, 1219, 1279, 1339, 1399, 1459, 1519, 1579, 1639, 1699, 1759, 1819, 1879, 1939, 1999

17

7

5

庚辰

20, 80, 140, 200, 260, 320, 380, 440, 500, 560, 620, 680, 740, 800, 860, 920, 980, 1040, 1100, 1160, 1220, 1280, 1340, 1400, 1460, 1520, 1580, 1640, 1700, 1760, 1820, 1880, 1940, 2000

18

8

6

辛巳

21, 81, 141, 201, 261, 321, 381, 441, 501, 561, 621, 681, 741, 801, 861, 921, 981, 1041, 1101, 1161, 1221, 1281, 1341, 1401, 1461, 1521, 1581, 1641, 1701, 1761, 1821, 1881, 1941, 2001

19

9

7

壬午

22, 82, 142, 202, 262, 322, 382, 442, 502, 562, 622, 682, 742, 802, 862, 922, 982, 1042, 1102, 1162, 1222, 1282, 1342, 1402, 1462, 1522, 1582, 1642, 1702, 1762, 1822, 1882, 1942, 2002

20

10

8

癸未

23, 83, 143, 203, 263, 323, 383, 443, 503, 563, 623, 683, 743, 803, 863, 923, 983, 1043, 1103, 1163, 1223, 1283, 1343, 1403, 1463, 1523, 1583, 1643, 1703, 1763, 1823, 1883, 1943, 2003

21

1

9

甲申

24, 84, 144, 204, 264, 324, 384, 444, 504, 564, 624, 684, 744, 804, 864, 924, 984, 1044, 1104, 1164, 1224, 1284, 1344, 1404, 1464, 1524, 1584, 1644, 1704, 1764, 1824, 1884, 1944, 2004

22

2

10

乙酉

25, 85, 145, 205, 265, 325, 385, 445, 505, 565, 625, 685, 745, 805, 865, 925, 985, 1045, 1105, 1165, 1225, 1285, 1345, 1405, 1465, 1525, 1585, 1645, 1705, 1765, 1825, 1885, 1945, 2005

23

3

11

丙戍

26, 86, 146, 206, 266, 326, 386, 446, 506, 566, 626, 686, 746, 806, 866, 926, 986, 1046, 1106, 1166, 1226, 1286, 1346, 1406, 1466, 1526, 1586, 1646, 1706, 1766, 1826, 1886, 1946, 2006

24

4

12

丁亥

27, 87, 147, 207, 267, 327, 387, 447, 507, 567, 627, 687, 747, 807, 867, 927, 987, 1047, 1107, 1167, 1227, 1287, 1347, 1407, 1467, 1527, 1587, 1647, 1707, 1767, 1827, 1887, 1947, 2007

25

5

1

戊子

28, 88, 148, 208, 268, 328, 388, 448, 508, 568, 628, 688, 748, 808, 868, 928, 988, 1048, 1108, 1168, 1228, 1288, 1348, 1408, 1468, 1528, 1588, 1648, 1708, 1768, 1828, 1888, 1948, 2008

26

6

2

己丑

29, 89, 149, 209, 269, 329, 389, 449, 509, 569, 629, 689, 749, 809, 869, 929, 989, 1049, 1109, 1169, 1229, 1289, 1349, 1409, 1469, 1529, 1589, 1649, 1709, 1769, 1829, 1889, 1949, 2009

27

7

3

庚寅

30, 90, 150, 210, 270, 330, 390, 450, 510, 570, 630, 690, 750, 810, 870, 930, 990, 1050, 1110, 1170, 1230, 1290, 1350, 1410, 1470, 1530, 1590, 1650, 1710, 1770, 1830, 1890, 1950, 2010

28

8

4

辛卯

31, 91, 151, 211, 271, 331, 391, 451, 511, 571, 631, 691, 751, 811, 871, 931, 991, 1051, 1111, 1171, 1231, 1291, 1351, 1411, 1471, 1531, 1591, 1651, 1711, 1771, 1831, 1891, 1951, 2011

29

9

5

壬辰

32, 92, 152, 212, 272, 332, 392, 452, 512, 572, 632, 692, 752, 812, 872, 932, 992, 1052, 1112, 1172, 1232, 1292, 1352, 1412, 1472, 1532, 1592, 1652, 1712, 1772, 1832, 1892, 1952, 2012

30

10

6

癸巳

33, 93, 153, 213, 273, 333, 393, 453, 513, 573, 633, 693, 753, 813, 873, 933, 993, 1053, 1113, 1173, 1233, 1293, 1353, 1413, 1473, 1533, 1593, 1653, 1713, 1773, 1833, 1893, 1953, 2013

31

1

7

甲午

34, 94, 154, 214, 274, 334, 394, 454, 514, 574, 634, 694, 754, 814, 874, 934, 994, 1054, 1114, 1174, 1234, 1294, 1354, 1414, 1474, 1534, 1594, 1654, 1714, 1774, 1834, 1894, 1954, 2014

32

2

8

乙未

35, 95, 155, 215, 275, 335, 395, 455, 515, 575, 635, 695, 755, 815, 875, 935, 995, 1055, 1115, 1175, 1235, 1295, 1355, 1415, 1475, 1535, 1595, 1655, 1715, 1775, 1835, 1895, 1955, 2015

33

3

9

丙申

36, 96, 156, 216, 276, 336, 396, 456, 516, 576, 636, 696, 756, 816, 876, 936, 996, 1056, 1116, 1176, 1236, 1296, 1356, 1416, 1476, 1536, 1596, 1656, 1716, 1776, 1836, 1896, 1956, 2016

34

4

10

丁酉

37, 97, 157, 217, 277, 337, 397, 457, 517, 577, 637, 697, 757, 817, 877, 937, 997, 1057, 1117, 1177, 1237, 1297, 1357, 1417, 1477, 1537, 1597, 1657, 1717, 1777, 1837, 1897, 1957, 2017

35

5

11

戊戍

38, 98, 158, 218, 278, 338, 398, 458, 518, 578, 638, 698, 758, 818, 878, 938, 998, 1058, 1118, 1178, 1238, 1298, 1358, 1418, 1478, 1538, 1598, 1658, 1718, 1778, 1838, 1898, 1958, 2018

36

6

12

己亥

39, 99, 159, 219, 279, 339, 399, 459, 519, 579, 639, 699, 759, 819, 879, 939, 999, 1059, 1119, 1179, 1239, 1299, 1359, 1419, 1479, 1539, 1599, 1659, 1719, 1779, 1839, 1899, 1959, 2019

37

7

1

庚子

40, 100, 160, 220, 280, 340, 400, 460, 520, 580, 640, 700, 760, 820, 880, 940, 1000, 1060, 1120, 1180, 1240, 1300, 1360, 1420, 1480, 1540, 1600, 1660, 1720, 1780, 1840, 1900, 1960, 2020

38

8

2

辛丑

41, 101, 161, 221, 281, 341, 401, 461, 521, 581, 641, 701, 761, 821, 881, 941, 1001, 1061, 1121, 1181, 1241, 1301, 1361, 1421, 1481, 1541, 1601, 1661, 1721, 1781, 1841, 1901, 1961, 2021

39

9

3

壬寅

42, 102, 162, 222, 282, 342, 402, 462, 522, 582, 642, 702, 762, 822, 882, 942, 1002, 1062, 1122, 1182, 1242, 1302, 1362, 1422, 1482, 1542, 1602, 1662, 1722, 1782, 1842, 1902, 1962, 2022

40

10

4

癸卯

43, 103, 163, 223, 283, 343, 403, 463, 523, 583, 643, 703, 763, 823, 883, 943, 1003, 1063, 1123, 1183, 1243, 1303, 1363, 1423, 1483, 1543, 1603, 1663, 1723, 1783, 1843, 1903, 1963, 2023

41

1

5

甲辰

44, 104, 164, 224, 284, 344, 404, 464, 524, 584, 644, 704, 764, 824, 884, 944, 1004, 1064, 1124, 1184, 1244, 1304, 1364, 1424, 1484, 1544, 1604, 1664, 1724, 1784, 1844, 1904, 1964, 2024

42

2

6

乙巳

45, 105, 165, 225, 285, 345, 405, 465, 525, 585, 645, 705, 765, 825, 885, 945, 1005, 1065, 1125, 1185, 1245, 1305, 1365, 1425, 1485, 1545, 1605, 1665, 1725, 1785, 1845, 1905, 1965, 2025

43

3

7

丙午

46, 106, 166, 226, 286, 346, 406, 466, 526, 586, 646, 706, 766, 826, 886, 946, 1006, 1066, 1126, 1186, 1246, 1306, 1366, 1426, 1486, 1546, 1606, 1666, 1726, 1786, 1846, 1906, 1966, 2026

44

4

8

丁未

47, 107, 167, 227, 287, 347, 407, 467, 527, 587, 647, 707, 767, 827, 887, 947, 1007, 1067, 1127, 1187, 1247, 1307, 1367, 1427, 1487, 1547, 1607, 1667, 1727, 1787, 1847, 1907, 1967, 2027

45

5

9

戊申

48, 108, 168, 228, 288, 348, 408, 468, 528, 588, 648, 708, 768, 828, 888, 948, 1008, 1068, 1128, 1188, 1248, 1308, 1368, 1428, 1488, 1548, 1608, 1668, 1728, 1788, 1848, 1908, 1968, 2028

46

6

10

己酉

49, 109, 169, 229, 289, 349, 409, 469, 529, 589, 649, 709, 769, 829, 889, 949, 1009, 1069, 1129, 1189, 1249, 1309, 1369, 1429, 1489, 1549, 1609, 1669, 1729, 1789, 1849, 1909, 1969, 2029

47

7

11

庚戍

50, 110, 170, 230, 290, 350, 410, 470, 530, 590, 650, 710, 770, 830, 890, 950, 1010, 1070, 1130, 1190, 1250, 1310, 1370, 1430, 1490, 1550, 1610, 1670, 1730, 1790, 1850, 1910, 1970, 2030

48

8

12

辛亥

51, 111, 171, 231, 291, 351, 411, 471, 531, 591, 651, 711, 771, 831, 891, 951, 1011, 1071, 1131, 1191, 1251, 1311, 1371, 1431, 1491, 1551, 1611, 1671, 1731, 1791, 1851, 1911, 1971, 2031

49

9

1

壬子

52, 112, 172, 232, 292, 352, 412, 472, 532, 592, 652, 712, 772, 832, 892, 952, 1012, 1072, 1132, 1192, 1252, 1312, 1372, 1432, 1492, 1552, 1612, 1672, 1732, 1792, 1852, 1912, 1972, 2032

50

10

2

癸丑

53, 113, 173, 233, 293, 353, 413, 473, 533, 593, 653, 713, 773, 833, 893, 953, 1013, 1073, 1133, 1193, 1253, 1313, 1373, 1433, 1493, 1553, 1613, 1673, 1733, 1793, 1853, 1913, 1973, 2033

51

1

3

甲寅

54, 114, 174, 234, 294, 354, 414, 474, 534, 594, 654, 714, 774, 834, 894, 954, 1014, 1074, 1134, 1194, 1254, 1314, 1374, 1434, 1494, 1554, 1614, 1674, 1734, 1794, 1854, 1914, 1974, 2034

52

2

4

乙卯

55, 115, 175, 235, 295, 355, 415, 475, 535, 595, 655, 715, 775, 835, 895, 955, 1015, 1075, 1135, 1195, 1255, 1315, 1375, 1435, 1495, 1555, 1615, 1675, 1735, 1795, 1855, 1915, 1975, 2035

53

3

5

丙辰

56, 116, 176, 236, 296, 356, 416, 476, 536, 596, 656, 716, 776, 836, 896, 956, 1016, 1076, 1136, 1196, 1256, 1316, 1376, 1436, 1496, 1556, 1616, 1676, 1736, 1796, 1856, 1916, 1976, 2036

54

4

6

丁巳

57, 117, 177, 237, 297, 357, 417, 477, 537, 597, 657, 717, 777, 837, 897, 957, 1017, 1077, 1137, 1197, 1257, 1317, 1377, 1437, 1497, 1557, 1617, 1677, 1737, 1797, 1857, 1917, 1977, 2037

55

5

7

戊午

58, 118, 178, 238, 298, 358, 418, 478, 538, 598, 658, 718, 778, 838, 898, 958, 1018, 1078, 1138, 1198, 1258, 1318, 1378, 1438, 1498, 1558, 1618, 1678, 1738, 1798, 1858, 1918, 1978, 2038

56

6

8

己未

59, 119, 179, 239, 299, 359, 419, 479, 539, 599, 659, 719, 779, 839, 899, 959, 1019, 1079, 1139, 1199, 1259, 1319, 1379, 1439, 1499, 1559, 1619, 1679, 1739, 1799, 1859, 1919, 1979, 2039

57

7

9

庚申

60, 120, 180, 240, 300, 360, 420, 480, 540, 600, 660, 720, 780, 840, 900, 960, 1020, 1080, 1140, 1200, 1260, 1320, 1380, 1440, 1500, 1560, 1620, 1680, 1740, 1800, 1860, 1920, 1980, 2040

58

8

10

辛酉

61, 121, 181, 241, 301, 361, 421, 481, 541, 601, 661, 721, 781, 841, 901, 961, 1021, 1081, 1141, 1201, 1261, 1321, 1381, 1441, 1501, 1561, 1621, 1681, 1741, 1801, 1861, 1921, 1981, 2041

59

9

11

壬戍

62, 122, 182, 242, 302, 362, 422, 482, 542, 602, 662, 722, 782, 842, 902, 962, 1022, 1082, 1142, 1202, 1262, 1322, 1382, 1442, 1502, 1562, 1622, 1682, 1742, 1802, 1862, 1922, 1982, 2042

60

10

12

癸亥

63, 123, 183, 243, 303, 363, 423, 483, 543, 603, 663, 723, 783, 843, 903, 963, 1023, 1083, 1143, 1203, 1263, 1323, 1383, 1443, 1503, 1563, 1623, 1683, 1743, 1803, 1863, 1923, 1983, 2043

4 thoughts on “Dates

    • Normally really old records have the lunar calendar version. Sometimes newer records have solar/gregorian for the latest generation, but a lot of them use lunar even for the new generations.

  1. The inscription on my Great-Grandmother’s tombstone includes a date that seems to refer to her date of death in accordance with this 60-year calendar. The only thing I can make out is 21 August (8月21日) but I nor any of my Korean friends can read the year. Can I send you a photo of the tombstone and get a reading as to what year she died?

Leave a Reply