Letters-Specialty of the Day
Letters-Specialty of the Day
  • Byun Ji Geunah
  • 승인 2011.05.08 02:19
  • 댓글 0
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These days, a postbox in the apartment is fashionable. It became much prettier than before; for example, it became colorful and the shape of it became softer.  However, inside the postbox, most of letters are bills and flyers.  In today’s society, exchanging letters with someone has become unusual; however, some people still send letters to ask after somebody.  Then, what is the meaning of letters in our society?

Where Letters Are Gone?
“I could love my life again by your letters.  In your letters, I could feel the love and friendship,” said Tchaikovsky to his sponsor in the letter.  With a letter Tchaikovsky and his sponsor Nadezhda von Meck fell in love.  Like this, letters were a way to communicate with other people, like lovers.  In the past, letters were the only way to communicate with people who live far away.  For instance, when Jung Yak-yong went into exile, he sent many letters to his brother and they could know each other’s lives.  Also, they used letters to satisfy intellectual curiosites.  Moreover, people correspond with not just people who live far away, but also people who live near to them.  Through letters, people can write down what they could not speak in front of other people.  In such way, people also communicate with their friends and family.  When telephones were not grown on every hedge, people had to write a letter to ask after somebody, and until they received an answer to a letter, people thought of the receivers.  Roh Jungsik (49) said, “I exchanged letters with my wife, who was a lover at that time.  I cannot forget the moment while I waited for letters.  It was a valuable time for me and my wife.”  Letters were quite slow communication, but “slow” makes people to think of letters as worthy things. 

However, with digitization letters disappeared.  People do not want “slow” anymore; therefore, people used other communication.  Development of the Internet made e-mail, and people can exchange letters easily and quickly.  Moreover, development of SMS (text messaging) made people’s writing shorter, and this made many people not to write long letters to other people.  Usually, people communicate with short sentences.  Especially, when they send text messages, they write all things in just 80 words.  Yoon Si yoon, a sophomore at the University of Suwon said, “I hardly write more than 2 or 3 short sentences to communicate with others.  Just one sentence makes our communication possible.”  Therefore, letters have been neglected by people.  The biggest example would be a post office.  Until just recently, the post office was just a place to send a letter, but at one point, parcel delivery service became a main part of them.  Also, red postboxes in the street have disappeared without a trace.  According to KOREA POST, the number of postboxes in the whole country was 36,012; however, in 2008, 23,761 postboxes are left.  In six years, 34 percent of postboxes in Korea disappeared.  Furthermore, the amount of letters has been reduced by 8.9 percent.  These days, handwritten letters are very hard to find, and just simple sentences are left as a way of communicating.

To Find a Letter

as time goes by, the disappearance of letters has awakened people.  Also, memory for analog time makes people to write hand-written letters again.  Therefore, KOREA POST held the National Letter Writing Competitions, and the site Letter Family was made for promoting hand-letter writing. Every year, they hold a competition to write letters, and they designate the 22nd of each month as Letter-Writing Day.  Also, each region holds a letter writing competition for elementary, middle, and high school students.  When the letter writing competition was first held, small numbers of people participated in the event; however, in 2010, almost 84,000 people participated in the event, and this is an increase of 22 percent from last year.  Throughout this contest, people send a letter that they could not in their usual life.  Lim Youngja (46), who was the winner of the National Letter Writing Competitions also wrote a letter to her mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease.  She starts her letter with this sentence, “It is the first time in 40 years that I wrote this letter to you, my mother.”  “In this way, through writing letters, people realized how to communicate their love and gratitude in a sentence, and this is the purpose of the Letter Writing Competition,” said Namgung Min, the director of the headquarters of KOREA POST.


Moreover, not only writing events, but also lots of commemorative stamps were published recently.  For example, the character Pororo was made into a stamp and it was a big issue.  Many children and students waited to buy this stamp.  Also, after Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, a Kim Yuna stamp was made, and the doctor An Jung-geun stamp was made in its centennial year.  With various stamps, KOREA POST works hard to make people to write hand-letters.  Furthermore, artists joined together under the banner of “Let’s write a handwritten letter.”  They made stamps with their art works and staged an exhibition.  Moreover, KOREA POST made ‘My Own Stamps.’  These are stamps that people can make by themselves.  If they give pictures to the Post Office, the Korea Mint Corporation makes them to stamps.  Not only companies but also everyone can make it easily.

Letter, which Moves My Heart
Like this, there are lots of events to make people to write a letter, but the amount of hand-writing is out of proportion.  Lots of stamps are just maintained as a collection, and still people regard hand-written letters as a bother.  Therefore, the amount of hand-written letters was not increasing substantially, and most letters in our postboxes are tax papers and fliers.  Hand-written letters are very rare in our society; however, the meaning of letters and their role still exist.  Since early times, letters were sent to special people on special days; for example, friends’ or parents’ birthdays.  Especially, on Parents’ Day and parents’ birthdays, we write letters neatly word by word to give thanks to our parents.  Also, lovers exchange letters to confirm their love with honeyed words.  It is unusual, but still people write handletters, and the scarcity of them makes people to be more touched by letters.  Kim Sangwoo (28) said, “In recent years, I did not receive any hand-written letters.  I think handwritten letters are the last analog in the digital era.  Therefore, letters impress people more than before.”  Also, Yang Hyun-ju, freshman in the College of Law at SMU, said, “I received letters at my birthday and it touched me.  Before I open the present box, I read it first.  These days, letters are very unusual, so hand-written letters impressed me more.  Even though they were letters from my friends, my heart fluttered as if I got letters from my boyfriend.”  The field of letters is narrowing down, but letters are still meaningful in our life.  The role of letters was just communication; however, now it can be an important thing to make a warm hearted society.  There are no contents that can give more true feelings than letters.

Write a Letter with My Heart
Letters were a universal method to communicate with others, but development of the Internet and SNS (Social Network Service) made people to regard writing letters as bothersome.  However, feeling nostalgia for analog era made people to give attention to letters again.  Therefore, when people get hand-written letters, they feel grateful to it.  There was a movie A Love Story (Siworae), which treats a love story which is made from letters.  Throughout this movie, people can reminisce about good old memories from letters.  Nowadays, giving letters is rare, so it is special and valuable.  They are not just a meaning of slow thing.  It is important esthetics of emotions.  Jazz drummer Namgung Yeon said, “Digital should wear analog cloth and become a culture to impress people.”  There are still lots of letters, which consist of short sentences; however, it could not surpass the meaning that a handwritten letter has.  When was the last day you sent a letter to someone?  If you cannot remember the day, how about writing a heartfelt letter to your lover, a friend or your family?

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