“Welcome to My World”, First Ten Years (1969-1979) of Korean Airlines as a Civilian Carrier

Articles Flight Covers South Korea

As a Korean Airlines jet takes off, Elvis Presley’s rendition of “Welcome to My World” was played in the background in an early Korean Airlines’ TV ad campaign. Korean Airlines’ World is the whole wide world now, but it wasn’t quite that wide in the beginning. 

[Welcome to my world!
Won’t you come on in?
Miracles, I guess
Still happen now and then…]

Korea’s first airline, Korean National Airlines (KNA) was originally founded in 1948. However, KNA soon struggled to survive and, eventually, the South Korean government took over the airline and introduced “Korean Air Lines” (KAL) as a national carrier in 1962. After 7 years of existence and experiment as a national carrier, KAL was reborn as a civilian carrier when the HanJin Group took over the airline on March 1, 1969. Since then, KAL has steadily expanded over the world’s horizon as a civilian carrier.

Major first flights from 1969 to 1979, the year culminating to long-cherished Seoul-New York direct passenger service, are covered here. Most of these flights were covered well philatelically.

April 26, 1971.
Transpacific freight service was introduced between Seoul and Los Angeles, California. This flight was the first long-haul freight operation. The passenger service to Los Angeles was added a year later.

April 19, 1972.
Transpacific passenger service between Seoul and Los Angeles was inaugurated, opening up southern California to Koreans. It is no coincidence that the only official “Korea Town” in the US is located in Los Angeles. It was due to KAL Flight #1160.

Figure 1: Cover flown on first flight KE #1160

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Figure 13: Reverse of Korean aerogram FFC Seoul—New York JFK

If the decade of the 1970s was a decade of Korean Air Lines’ ever increasingly busy Korean air space, the decade of the 1980s, leading up to the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympic Games, was a decade of foreign airlines in Korea. Many foreign airlines would visit Korea for the first time in the 1980’s, competing against KAL, which changed its name to “Korean Air” later.

(Originally from KP February 2012, Vol. 54, No. 1)


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