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Dead medium: Korean Horse Post
From: (Gary Gach)

Source(s): ENCYCLOPEDIA KOREANA, to be published 1998 by the Korean Ministry of Culture, Seoul, Korea (Warning: Korean financial difficulties may make the publication date problematic)

"The Horse Relay Station (Pabal)

"Horse relay stations were a communication system established to deliver emergency military secret documents promptly from the central government to the border.

"Relaying information about an enemy's position using beacon or smoke was limited when it was cloudy or foggy. Thus the horse relay station system supplemented the beacon and fire system. It originated as a military secret service, established by the Sung dynasty in order to attack the Jurchen dynasty.

"There were three types of delivery. The poch'e and kopgakch'e were a type of communication in which a man delivers a message by running, and mach'e was a type of communication in which a horse was used. This system was further developed during Yuan and Ming dynasties of China.

"During the Japanese Invasion, the Ming China's military dispatched messages to the Choson dynasty using the relay station. Kim Ung-nam, a consular representative, and Han Chun-gyom, the royal secretary, suggested in adopting a similar system. It was then adopted and 194 stations were established. Three main sectors, West, North, and South were established. They were further subdivided into regions. There was a stop station every twenty or thirty ri for jockeys.

"Important aspects of operating horse relay stations were security of horses and soldiers. Soldiers were organized by paljang and palgun. The palgun was composed of cavalry and infantry which was composed of militia. Their main duty was the transmission of official secret documents. Those who delayed transmission, damaged documents or stole them were strictly punished. There were case in which secrets were leaked.

"Methods of beacon and fire were further developed after the seventeenth to eighteenth century with the horse relay station system as part of the Choson military communications system, but the horse relay stations were abolished with the advent of telephone and telegraph in 1894."

Gary Gach (