Hong Sammy Reporter
In the early 20th Century, after the English industrial revolution, tuberculosis prevailed in Denmark. The postmaster of Copenhagen, Einar Holboll sought for a way to help the children dying of the disease. One cold day in winter, the postmaster was organizing the Christmas posts. Suddenly, realizing that there always were huge amount of letters at the end of the year, he thought, “What if we can help the children by selling the seals that can be attached on each letter?” From then, December 10th, 1904, the Christmas Seals began being issued.
The Christmas seal has quite a long history. You might have thought that the Christmas seal was just a pretty little sticker that we keep in our desk drawers. Many of you might have also wondered if these Christmas seals are issued only in your country or not. Nope! Be ready to be surprised. Here comes the interesting story of Korean Christmas seals, the history and the position of it.
● The History of Korean Christmas Seals
An American missionary, Sherwood Hall first introduced Christmas seals in Korea. As a doctor, he wanted to help those who were vulnerable to tuberculosis.
During the Japanese colonial era, Sherwood came under suspicion by the Japanese. He was exiled and the seal publication was suspended.
After liberation, the fundraising proceeded by a Korean doctor, Moon Chang-mo. He had participated in issuing the first seal in Korea. But it did not go well either.
The Korean National Tuberculosis Association was established. The fundraising began in earnest, operating several helpful projects to defeat the disease.
● What is the Korean National Tuberculosis Association?
Founded on November 6th, 1953, this institution started to conduct its own research and development related to tuberculosis. As an expertise of the disease, it has led tuberculosis prevention and eradication. The promotional materials for tuberculosis education are also provided by it. The institution is divided into 12 branches, working nationwide to help those in need.
● Meaningful Seals in Korea
- 1932 Sungnyemun Gate
Sherwood thought the first seal should be meaningful to Koreans. He first designed a seal with the Turtle Ship, which contributed in defeating the Japanese army. But because it was during the Japanese Colonial era, the design was rejected. It was replaced by the number one Korean National Treasure, Sungnyemun.
- 1953 Rainbow-striped Garment Girl
This is the seal issued by doctor Moon Chang-mo, right after the foundation of the institution. The rainbow-striped garment symbolizes the celebration of the New Year. Since Sherwood was against the Korean preference of the son, doctor Moon designed a model as a girl.
- 1988 Nongak
Nongak is the Korean traditional music of farmers. The 1988 Summer Olympics was held in Korea. To commemorate the special year, the seal was designed with Korean traditional folk play. It is also memorable because it was the first time to win the first prize at the Christmas Seal Contest.
- 2009 Kim Yuna
Kim Yuna is a Korean figure skater that will go down in Korean history. Her gestures and poses that created a sensation were put into the seal. After she won the gold medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics, the seal received a fervent response.
- 2018 Be a Friend – DMZ endangered animals
This seal is a reflection of the two Koreas’ relationship in 2018. Just like South and North Korea, the DMZ-living creatures used to symbolize division, but now symbolize peace. The illustrator, Kwon So-hyun hoped to draw a human and endangered animals at the DMZ, coexisting in harmony. She also tried to show the warm and positive energy that the animals giveback to humans, although it could be a serious subject since division.
● Christmas Seal Contest
The Union (International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease) is an institute that works for scientific researches and solutions to public health. It appreciates the importance of the Christmas seals. Therefore, it honors the fundraising by inviting the Union members to display the seals at the World Conference. Then, each member votes for the best designed Christmas seal at the General Assembly. Three prize winners receive a certificate each year.
The Republic of Korea is well known for the high quality of Christmas seal designs. Since 1988, Korea has won the first prize seven times. Recently, Korean National Tuberculosis Association was awarded second prize at the 2018 Christmas Seals Contest.
● How to Fundraise Christmas Seals in Korea
You can participate in fundraising through post offices and online site (loveseal.knta.or.kr). Moreover, some schools and companies take part in fundraising, so you can just look around to find the Christmas seals.
Now we know that a huge effort was put into this small Christmas seal. In the early years in Korea, it was told that people were four times more vulnerable to tuberculosis than Americans. Many endeavors and concerns for the disease made it possible for Koreans to recover. To thank those people who tried to fight, and to help those still in need, why don’t we show our keen interest and love by fundraising for the Christmas seals? Then we will be able to continue the unending miracle of the Christmas seals.
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