Every year since 1957, the Republic of Korea Post Office has issued New Year greeting cards, and since 1975 New Year envelopes, although these special envelopes have not been issued every year. In 1974, as a ‘one-off’, Korea Post issued a special New Year letter sheet. These New Year greetings stationery are issued for the last month of the solar calendar, and not for the last month of the lunar calendar. This is strange because the celebration of Kujŏng (舊 正, lunar New Year) has been a more important holiday than the solar New Year. In this brief article, I will look at the symbols used in the design of each of the cards issued to hail the arrival of New Year 2020.
Text of the Cards1The first card has a left- and right-hand frame of flowers and butterflies with the Korean greeting given in a highly stylised form of the Han’gŭl alphabet. The script follows the style of calligraphic writing with a brush. The two line greeting reads ‘Usŭm kkot pinŭn saehae’, ‘A New Year in which the flower of laughter blooms’. Below this is the phrase ‘Haengbok haseyo’ – ‘Wishing you happiness’. As on all these cards there is an English-language phrase which does not translate literally the Korean phrases.
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