Rain, sleet or holidays can’t lick the curios hereBone-chilling cold, sweltering heat, driving rain and suicidal road conditions ― all part of the job for your friendly neighborhood postal carrier.
Hectic downtown Seoul serves as a perfect backdrop for a museum dedicated to those men and women who deal with these conditions on a daily basis. The Postal Museum is housed on the fourth and fifth floors of an annex building next to the Seoul Central Post Office.
The fifth floor of the museum is dedicated mostly to stamps and letter processing, while the fourth floor focuses on the history of the post office and letter delivery.
The modern post office began in Korea in 1884 by Hong Young-sik, the first director general. That year the first stamp was issued, and in 1902 came the first commemorative stamp. Sections of the museum on the fourth floor are dedicated to the history of the post office in Korea and communications.
There’s also a gallery of the evolution of the postal worker’s uniform in Korea, from the police-like blues of the early 1900s and the tacky browns of the ’80s to the casual but spiffy garb seen today.
After that comes a section on post offices around the world. “When children come to the museum, they usually go to the uniforms and post boxes first,” says Kim Hyun-jin, the director of the museum. Behind the display glass stand a dozen models wearing the uniforms of various countries ― the yellow uniforms of Brazil, reminders of that nation’s soccer team, and the McDonald’s-esque red uniforms of New Zealand and Australia.
A philatelist’s dream, the fifth floor takes a detailed look at stamps, including the stamps of Korea’s past, of other countries and the manufacturing of stamps. The first Korean stamps, dating back to the Joseon Dynasty, sit in this portion of the collection. The foreign stamps fill a series of pull-out metal frames, and include stamps from larger countries like the United States as well as more obscure nations like Senegal. By the staircase outside the fifth floor lies a gallery of historical commemorative stamps. Lining the walls are framed blow-ups of stamps depicting moments in Korean history.
A full tour of the museum takes about an hour and admission is free. The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., from November through February. From March through October, the museum is open to 6 p.m. The museum closes at 1 p.m. on Saturdays. It is closed on Sundays and all national and public holidays.
by Steven Lee
For more information call (02) 756-2858 or visit their Web page at www.postmuseum.go.kr.