Changes in Postal Codes Only for Administrative ConvenienceOn April 27, the Ministry of Information and Communication suddenly announced the new postal code system to be effective as of May 1. The current postal code system consists of 8700 codes while the new system would consist of 24000 codes, almost three times more than the current system.
A source from the Ministry of Information and Communication explained that, "It is a complementary measure to effectively utilize the automated sorting system, in which a large amount of the budget was invested. Moreover, it is a way to reduce the work load on postmen since they sort the mail by hand."
It is certainly understandable to modify the postal code system, if it is neither realistic nor practical. It would reduce the unnecessary workload of postmen as well as the tax responsibilities of the nation.
However, many people raised their concerns when the ministry made the announcement. People wondered, "Who would benefit from this change of the postal code system?" It was also pointed out as a typical example of rules made just to meet the temporary convenience of the administration.
It is highly unacceptable that the ministry announced the change of the postal code system, which is closely linked to the everyday life of our people, without any prior notification or debate.
Moreover, the ministry announced the change only four days in advance of the launch date of the new system. The ministry provided excuses saying, "The plan has been in preparation since early last year." They also added, "We plan to publish one million books with the new postal codes and distribute them for free through post offices throughout the nation."
The ministry continued on explaining their plan 'to promote the new system to people through public advertisement.' However, it is certainly doubtful that adaptation of this new postal code system will be possible within four days. Even post office employes question if it is possibe to ask people to become accustomed to the new system in such a short period of time.
The reason for the system modification is extremely unacceptable as well as unjustifiable. The Ministry of Information and Communication officially announced that they had modified the system in order to enhance the convenience of 'government officials' rather than the 'entire nation' without hesitation. They had postponed the implementation date from April to May for unclear reasons. There have been doubts that the ministry had delayed the announcement of the new postal code system to avoid criticism from the opposition party over a lack of consideration of the people.
Recently the entire nation has been under the wave of informatization. Therefore, the usages of phones, cell phones, and e-mail have been rapidly increasing. However, the postal system is still the fundamental basis of the national communication system. Last year, 3.8 billion pieces of mail were processed by post offices. That is 13 million pieces of mail each day, which is an increase of 6.8 percent compared to 1998. Based on the economic recovery and the increases in active electronic commerce transactions the usages of postal mail will greatly increase.
Under these circumstances, the sudden change in the postal code system will definitely create confusion among its users. It is a far more serious concern for companies and organizations which depend on bulk mail as an important part of their operation. Moreover, companies will groan under the heavy burden of an unexpected increase in expenses.
The change in the postal system, which is linked directly with the life of Korea's citizens, should never be a surprise under any circumstances, even if it is done for the right reasons.
by Lee Won-ho