The North Korean "Reprints"
by: J. Kevin MacKeown

Extracted from Korean Philately, November, 2001 -vol. 47, No, 4
EDITOR: Dr. Gary N. McLean.

These "official imitations", commonly referred to as reprints, are among the earliest and often despised, acquaintances of any collector of North Korea, and much is known about them. Maeda's (2000) monograph is an invaluable guide in this respect. Their status in the catalogues, however, is marginal. Gibbons mentions only that they could be, and have been, used for postage, but as that was not their primary purpose, we do not list them.

Strict adherence to this criterion would lead to a welcome reduction in the weight of current catalogues, and not only from North Korea, although in this case it would preclude the vast majority of stamps listed for the past twenty years. Michel gives a perfunctory listing, without varieties with prices for used copies that clearly refer to CTO specimens. Iím inclined to give them a somewhat greater philatelic respectability than their reputation warrants. Many questions arise: What were their dates of issue? Were they all issued at the same time? The CTO cancellations are of scant value in this regard; they usually carry a date of issue related to that of the original, eg., the reprint of the 1946 20 chon rose of Sharon is cancelled 46.3.12, in agreement with all the catalogues. However, the 1948 Labour Law issue is dated 48,6.24, whereas all the catalogues say it was issued on June 5. Other such discrepancies occur, and it may be that some carry more than one date of cancellation.

The factor most determining their respectability is the extent to which they were used to pay postage. The fact is that some of them probably saw more such usage than many of the later glamour issues which clog up the catalogue pages-try to get postally used copies of, for example, the 1983 Raphael, or 1991 pandas, or Princess Diana! That is not to say that postally used values of these reprints are easy to come by; for some of them, none may exist. There may be ones, however, which are note common in this condition than the corresponding originals; some of which are very scarce indeed. As a start in clarifying the situation, I attach a small gallery of issues seen. Some of the use, of course, was philatelically inspired, by visitors to the country. Others seem to have a more bona fide origin; at least two of them carry Pyongyang post office roller type cancellations, suggesting commercial use. I would be pleased to hear from anybody with more information, especially on the earliest re-corded postmarks. Has anyone seen copies used on domestic mail?

An opportunity exists here for whomever compiles Scottís listing of the country to take a more objective stance towards these issues.

Maeda, T. (2000)/ D.P.R.K. (North Korea)
1946 - 1957 plate identifier:
A hand-book.
Tokyo: Author

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