Korea’s Postal and Communications System (1941)

Articles Old Korea

(This text was originally published in 1941 and republished in KP XI No. 1 (February 1962). It is here being published again for its historical significance.) Only scant remainders enable us today to retrace the origins of the Korean Postal and Communications System. We do know for a fact, however, that the country’s rulers have established a number of postal routes and stations during the Middle Ages to handle military and official postal documents. Although the people of that time are not thought of as having required much in the line of postal services, they were not permitted to avail themselves of the postal routes. Private mail was allowed to be carried within the country through merchants and travelers only, based upon mutual accords that were agreed upon in each individual case.

It was not until the second half of the 19th Century, when Japan started to join world traffic and began its expansion towards the neighboring East-Asiatic continent, that the development of the Korean Postal System was advanced at a more rapid pace. After all, the Korean Peninsula was that part of the continent nearest Japan. An important date was the year 1876. The Treaty of Seoul (capital of Korea) signed during that year established the first Post Office on Korean soil in Fu-San, opening the way for other offices to follow during the years. These post offices handled mainly the mail between the Island Empire and Korea (for the postage stamps used see “Japanese post offices in Korea”). The Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs Office (Customs Post) also established postal communications between the Korean ports or Chemulpo, Fu-San, Genzan and China a few years thereafter in 1882. These establishments used the stamps of China No. 1-3. For more details about the mail of the Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs office (which was operated under European management) consult Kohl-Handbuch vol. 1 p. 696.

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