Samsung Just Revived a Lost Analog Tradition in South Korea

Postcard Campaign Sparks Nostalgia Among Digital Natives

By Published on .

Reprints Reprints

The artist is in her mid-40s and recalled taking part in another postcard exhibit in 1995 when she was young. Despite the analog look, she made the postcard on a Galaxy Note.
The artist is in her mid-40s and recalled taking part in another postcard exhibit in 1995 when she was young. Despite the analog look, she made the postcard on a Galaxy Note.

Starting in the 1970s, radio listeners in South Korea used to write postcards to DJs to request songs and tell their stories. They hoped to hear their tales of love, disappointment -- or just gossip read on the air. To get the hosts' attention, they would decorate them with elaborate drawings or handwriting, hoping their message would stand out.

The tradition died out with the rise of the internet and social networks, but Samsung just revived it, in a campaign devised by Cheil. The electronics giant partnered with Korea's MBC radio to encourage people to make digital postcards using the Galaxy Note and S Pen, with the best entries going on show. (They also accepted submissions on ordinary paper postcards.)

The contest got 8,565 submissions, about 40% using the Galaxy Note S Pen. Entrants varied: Some remembered the old radio tradition, and some were digital natives who had never written a postcard before.

The artist is a 27-year-old grad student worried about the future and writing to ask support from his favorite DJ. It's the first time he ever wrote a postcard.
The artist is a 27-year-old grad student worried about the future and writing to ask support from his favorite DJ. It's the first time he ever wrote a postcard.

"This was a chance for them to learn what being 'analog' means, as their whole life has been way too much digital," said Dong-ouk Seo, Cheil's main account executive on the campaign. South Korea is among the world's most tech-savvy countries, with one of the fastest internet connections.

Back in the day, the topics of the postcards varied, "from love stories, school gossip to celebrities, friendship and family celebrations," he said. "Most of the stories are about human lives, what makes them happy and sad." They could write to share good news -- a wedding, university entry -- or bad -- losing a business, getting their hearts broken.

The new entries had similar themes; one person wrote in about his happiness at seeing his father with his baby son, while several 20-somethings wrote of their hopes and uncertainties in their careers.

MBC radio, which today has 3.5 million monthly listeners, sponsored a postcard exhibit every year until 2004. The new campaign with Samsung was the first since then. The best were displayed in a Seoul gallery from Nov. 25 to Dec. 4. They go on display again for a month starting Friday in the lobby of the MBC building in Seoul.

The artist says happiness is seeing his dad with his baby. And he requests a song from pop star Psy, 'Father.'
The artist says happiness is seeing his dad with his baby. And he requests a song from pop star Psy, 'Father.'
The creator of this postcard is 24 years old and dreams of working for a U.S. company she doesn't name, but she worries her language skills aren't good enough. She supports everyone with a dream.
The creator of this postcard is 24 years old and dreams of working for a U.S. company she doesn't name, but she worries her language skills aren't good enough. She supports everyone with a dream.
Most Popular