Korean New Year Greeting Cards

Postcards

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 Cards

1The 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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4 thoughts on “Korean New Year Greeting Cards

  1. Dear Mr. Chen, thank you for pointing this out. However, as a Japanese ‘tradition’ it would not have been very old. Before the end of the Second World War, Japan issued New Year’s stamps only on three occasions – 1935, 1936, and 1937 – all in mid-December. This might account for why the solar New Year date has been chosen. Nonetheless, it is strange because in the 1950s, there was very strong feeling about anything which appeared to be ‘Japanese’.

    1. I am just guessing, but I believe that Dr. Sherwood Hall started the Christmas and New Year’s greetings with his Korean TB/Christmas New Year program in 1932. He started issuing Christmas and New Year postcards in 1933. He had Christmas and New Year “Fold cards” in 1934-5 and sold the Christmas and New Year Wood Block Print cards from 1934 -1940 and a souvenir sheet in 1937. From 1957-60 South Korea also issued the popular Christmas and New Year greetings series of stamps and souvenir sheets.

  2. Dear Robert,
    You are right. Sherwood Hall and his associates issued these TB ‘stamps’ called ‘Christmas Seals’ from 1932. They are very collectable, and are listed in the Han’guk up’yo togam (Korea Postage Stamp Catalogue or KPC for short). However, they are different as they were not issued by a postal authority or government as were the Japanese New Year stamps, and the subsequent Korean ones.

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