They say that art can be one of the best ways to learn a country’s culture and history. This is especially true for Korea, even with everyday objects such as postal stamps! Believe it or not, Korea actually has an interesting history involving stamps and the postal service. This history dates back to the second half of the 1800s, when Korea started opening its borders to other countries.
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The first time that Korea issued its own stamps was during the Joseon period. On November 18, 1884, the first Korean postal service was created. The stamps of this time had values of 5, 10, 25, 50, and 100 mun. However, only the 5 and 10 mun stamps were formally issued. At the time, artists decorated the background and empty space of these stamps with geometrical circles, lotus petals, bats, clouds, peony flowers, lattice, flowering plants and arabesque designs.
The next series of stamps was released during the Korean Empire.
On January 1, 1900, Korea became a member of the Universal Postal Union. The Korean Empire then introduced a series of 13 stamps, with values ranging from 2 re to 2 won. These stamps are the first stamps that were actually printed in Korea. These stamps are known as the "Plum Blossom stamps" because all the designs have a common theme of the plum blossom and taegeuk symbol.
While Korea was under the control of Japan, the country primarily used Japanese stamps. After Korea was liberated, South Korean stamps began being produced again.
On May 1, 1946, the first commemorative stamps in South Korea were issued to celebrate the first anniversary of its independence. On August 15, a 50 chon stamp commemorating the first anniversary of the independence was also issued. Throughout the years, stamps would continue to showcase symbols of Korean people and Korean values. Commonly seen images showed workers, farmers, and national symbols such as the South Korean flag or the mugunghwa, the national flower of South Korea. There was even a stamp featuring Dokdo Island!
Wondering why Dokdo Island is such an important location in Korea? Read our blog:
Korea’s stamps play a very important role as a visual show of what was important in Korean society at the time. Our KORE Stamp Tee showcases our version of these pieces of art. Make sure to get one today!