Thursday, July 31, 2008

Postcards and letter from Korea

I recently got two postcards and one letter from Korea, sent by Michael, that I would like to share with you. Thank you Michael, and thanks a lot for the frog stamps that were included in the letter !
Let’s start by the postcards.

The first one pictures Gwanghwamun (or Kwanghwamun) gate, which is a gate located in central Seoul. It was built in 1395 in front of the Gyeongbok Palace, a very large palace built in 1394 by King Taejo. The Gwanghwamun gate has been destroyed and rebuilt several times since its construction, it has even been actually moved in 1926 during the Japanese occupation to face what is now the Folk Museum of Korea ! The plan is to renovate it and to move it back to its original location ! Works should be finished in 2009.
Here is the other side of this postcard.

Both stamps used on the postcard are definitive issue. The one on the left is part of a set issued on the 1st of November 2006 as a part of the adjustment of the postal rates that took place at this time. The stamp pictures a couple of whistling swans. This winter migratory bird as been designated as Natural Monument of Korea.
The other stamp has been issued on the 11th of April 2003 and pictures a celadon pitcher in the shape of a tortoise. The turtle-shaped pitcher was produced during the Goryeo Kingdom in the early 12th century and displays the sophisticated craftsmanship of the times. It is 17.3 centimeters high and is preserved at the National Museum of Korea.
You can notice a blue mark on the left side of the cover, I will come back to it with the second postcard.
Here it is.

It pictures the site of the signing of the armistice agreement on the 27th of July 1953 that put en end to the Korean war.

Here is the other side of the card.

You can see two blue mark on the left side of the card. The first one is the mark of the Dorasan station.
Dorasan station is located on Gyeongui line, one of the oldest railway lines in Korea. It opened in 1906 and connected Seoul to Pyeongyang. After the division of Korea in two parts, the line was also divided in two. On the south part, the trains stop at Dorasan station, located on the edge of the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone). There is a plan to re-establish the full line as it was originally between North and South Korea. To symbolize this plan, there is a milestone at Dorasan station indicating the distance from there to Seoul and to Pyeongyang. This is what we see also on the second mark put on the postcard.

Michael also sent me a cover that I would like to show you. Here it is.

The stamp in block of four is again a definitive stamp. It is a part of the same set that the one with the swans I mentioned above. It pictures a brown hawk-owl.
The two other stamps have been issued on the 10th of December 2003. This set is a part of a joint issued with India, commemorating the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between both countries. Both countries have close ties since long through the exchanges of the Buddhist culture, but hey established diplomatic relations in 1973. The stamps pictures astrological observatories of both nations.
On the left the one located in Korea, Cheomseongdae observatory, is believed to have been built during the reign of Queen Seondeok (AD 623 to 647). This is one the oldest astronomical observatories of its kind in Asia. Ancient records show that people climbed to the top of the tower using a ladder to observe the skies and to study the movements of the celestial sphere.
On the right, Jantar Mantar, the largest astrological observatory of India, was built from 1727 to 1728. It was built to observe the movements of the constellation, sun, moon and planets in consideration of the astrological rule, location of the equator, the latitude and longitude.
For the record here are the stamps issued by India as a part of this joint issue.

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