Dr. Moon Chang-Mo Resurrects Korean TB/Christmas New Year Seal Program In 1949


The program begun by Dr. Sherwood Hall, who had been born in 1893 in Korea to Methodist missionaries and doctors, to raise funds to fight tuberculosis (TB) in Korea by issuing Christmas and New Years seals, ended in 1940, as the Japanese forced him to leave the country. It would not be until 1949 that an attempt would be made by Dr. Moon Chang-Mo to re-start the seal program to raise money to fight TB.

The country was split into North and South Korea after WWII and Dr. Moon then lived in South Korea. TB was still a terrible disease in all of Korea in 1949, and thousands of people were still dying from the effects of TB. Dr. Moon (hangul: 문창모, hanja: 文昌模), who was born in 1907 and graduated from the Severance Medical College in 1931, was a young member on Dr. Hall’s staff at Haeju Sanatorium in 1932 when the first seals were promoted in Korea. Dr. Hall had established this first Korean tuberculosis sanatorium in 1928. See Figure 1 for photo of sanatorium.

Figure 1: Dr. Hall, his Staff and Patients at Haiju Sanatorium, Dr. Moon is probably one of the staff.

Dr. Hall wrote about Dr. Moon in his book, “With Stethoscope in Asia: Korea” on page 444, “Our Committee felt that the public health education aspect of the campaign was even more important than raising money. Our own staff member, Dr. M.K. Moon, gave his full time to the students. He was a natural orator and knew how to effectively arouse the students to action.” Dr. Moon would rise to be a prominent figure in Korean history, in both health and political fields, and continued his fight against TB until he died in 2002. By 1949 he was the Director of the Severance Hospital. See Figure 1a for a photo for Dr. Moon.

Figure 1a: Undated Photo of Dr. Moon, late 1990’s.

Dr. Moon was personally involved in promoting and selling the first seals in the Pyongyang area, and we find from his memoirs, the first actual mention of how much money the TB seal program raised in the first year of 1932-3. Dr. Moon, who returned from his visit to Pyongyang to promote the TB seals, said “I received praise and recognition from Dr. Hall”. The first Christmas sales of 1932 raised, after all deduction of expenses, $170, a significant sum at that time in Korea for the TB program.

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What's that on the cancellation...?
Here’s for a nice challenge: can you decipher the cancellation? First have a look at the receiving postmark, on the back of the envelope:

This is relatively easy to read. It states 83.1.8 and probably 門化光 (which is 光化門 from right-to-left):

But now for the challenge. What does the postmark on the front state? Here is the cancellation blown up and turned so it is horizontal:

And the other way around:

So, now we have both perspectives. Two numbers (8 and 3) seem to be visible. But what about the rest…?


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