Does anybody know more about the history of Travelling Post Offices (우편열차) in Korea? What I have found so far comes from two pictures showing two boards from the Stamp Museum in Cheonan (not Seoul) from an exhibit on TPO’s in Korea. This board lists for instance that the first mail transported by train in Korea was sent on 1 November 1904, with regular trains between Seoul and Busan from March 1905 onwards.
Of course until mid-1945 Korea was, whether independent or part of the Japanese empire, still one when it came to postal activities. This meant that trains also ran from Seoul northwards, to Pyongyang, beginning in the 1920s.
Apparently from the 1980s more and more mail train services came to an end, with whatever was left after the 1990s ending pretty much completely by February 2000 with the exception of two lines, the Seoul-Busan and Seoul-Kwangju connections. Those last two lines ended on 24 May 2006.
However, something has been going on recently. Photos from 2018 shown on Twitter show a railway van which apparently is a new version of a TPO. Who has more information on this particular piece of railway equipment?
Here is some (historical) information I have found so far by looking for terms such as 우편열차 or 郵便列車:
But then photos showed up showing an actual railway van being part of a moving train:
More photos of this van are available online on the Imgrum website by using the term 우편열차.
The same type of van also was shown on Twitter:
제 1210열차 부산발 서울행
무궁화호에 편성된 우편열차. pic.twitter.com/MADlvoMnOA
— [나엘]🐬 (@9L_3398) September 25, 2018
But that’s not where the story ends! Next two videos showed up on YouTube (and there are more) of this van in a moving train:
So, there you have it: photos, video, backgrounds. But who has more detailed information? And who owns TPO covers from Korea? Please leave comments below if you have more information or contact us directly.
2 thoughts on “Reader’s Question: History of Travelling Post Offices in Korea?”
Hi Ivo I am writing an initial article on the RPO service that may help though it does not go far beyond the Chonan material. Tony Michell
The recent cars are labeled Taek bae. This is a separate service run by the post office for online order parcel deliveries to households competing with Coupang, Hanjin and others. The cars shown are attached to a saemaul ho train and to a freight train, although the signage on the car says KTX “special” or “tuksong”. I am told by DHL that they use actual KTX for some internal package delivery, but the car shown cannot be attached to any actual hi-speed KTX train as they are all standalone units/emu. Sadly KNR car numbers are on the end of the car and not on the side so hard to say how many cars exist from photos.