Friday, June 17, 2016

South Korea 2016
100th Anniversary of Sorokdo National Hospital

ISSUE DATE: 17 May 2016
STAMP SIZE:35 x 35 mm

Located on small, beautiful Sorokdo Island of Goheung-gun, Jeollanam-do province, Sorokdo National Hospital is a historic medical institution that represents the development of Hansen’s disease treatment in Korea. It was originally established in 1916 as the Sorokdo Charity Clinic during Japanese colonial rule to isolate the patients of Hansen’s disease from society. Since then, the institution’s name has changed several times: at different times, it was called Central Leprosy Sanitarium, Sorokdo Rehabilitation Center, and National Leprosy Hospital, prior to becoming Sorokdo National Hospital today.

Regardless of name, the institution has continued to treat and render care for patients of Hansen’s disease. Visitors to the island can not only learn about the tragedies of Hansen’s disease patients, who had long been targets of discrimination and prejudice, but also witness evidence of historical incidents, including forced labor during Japanese colonial rule, the massacre of 84 patients and the Omado Island reclamation works.

Another significant part of Sorokdo Island’s 100-year history is the story of nuns Marianne Stoeger and Margreth Pissarek, who devoted their lives to serving patients of Hansen’s disease. The two nuns from Austria came to the island when they were in their late 20’s to provide care for the suffering patients. 

They remained on the island for more than four decades and managed to meaningfully improve the welfare of patients, including the establishment of a tuberculosis ward and the introduction of physical therapy equipment. Thanks to their tireless endeavors, Sorokdo is now visited each year by countless medical service teams and volunteers from all around the country, and Sorokdo National Hospital has been reborn as a beautiful community where people come from outside to share the sufferings and joys of Hansen’s disease patients and to serve them.

On a sheet featuring the beautiful Sorok Bridge – a symbol of communication – the commemorative stamps express two perspectives. The first is to look back on the painful past through the Sorokdo Charity Clinic in its early days and the image of Guratop, a statue of the archangel Michael eradicating the Hansen’s disease virus. The second stamp shows today’s Sorokdo National Hospital and an image of caring hands holding one another, to promote peace and communication for tomorrow.

Sorokdo National Hospital fights discrimination and prejudice against patients of Hansen’s disease by promoting human rights, healthy living, and the value of sharing. In the hope that the hospital will re-establish itself as a place of communication and peace despite its tragic past, Korea Post is issuing stamps to commemorate its 100th anniversary.

Stamp images thanks to Korea Post

South Korea Post