Postal stations and mapae as a means of communication before the implementation of modern postal services

Old Korea

Korea’s official postal system was established around 487 AD. The purpose of this system was for the central government to issue orders to local government offices. This is called the postal station system.

The postal station system continued until the Japanese invasions of Korea, but when the Ming army came in to help Joseon, they brought the military dispatch system, and from this time on, the dispatch system was introduced to Korea as well. There was a horse service and a labor service, which are also called Gibal and Bobal. Also, when a high-ranking official of the central government sent a letter to the center or another province during a local business trip, he would stamp the mapae on the envelope, letter, or official document to prove his identity.

The image shows a paper mapae (Korean: 마패; Chinese/hanja: 馬牌) with the words ‘2 labor services, Jo Tae-hyun – July 16’ written on it.

A mapae used by officials as a badge to commandeer a horse when going to a local area on official business.
Reverse of same document.
This items are shown on page 7 and 8 of the book “Chebu”. For more information please see this article published on this book on the KSS website.
Dr. Joel Lee
Born in Korea, Vietnam war participation as ROK marine, Dr. of Ministry, Retired Presbyterian Pastor. 40 years collected for Korea stamps 1884-1905.

2 thoughts on “Postal stations and mapae as a means of communication before the implementation of modern postal services

    1. There are a number of different varieties of this 100 won stamp with different perforations and size of the image and it really difficult to see the differences, especially of the size of the design. The first, I believe has 12 rouletted perforation and was issued without gum, KPSC 78 (The KPSC went back to their old numbering system in their latest 2022-2023 catalog), Scott 125a. It was also issued with perforations 11, KPSC 78A, Scott 125. It was then also issued in 1952 -1953 with the design slightly smaller. It was issued with rough perforations 10-11, KPSC 82, Scott 187B and with perforations 12 1/2, KPSC 87, Scott 188. I believe that the stamp shown in the image is probably the one of the series issued by what is called the “Government Printing Agency Series” in 1952-1953, KPSC 87, Scott 188, design slightly smaller. perforation 12. Bob

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