New Members: Although 2003 ended with a whimper for our society with our dear editor falling further behind with the KP production schedule, not only are we on the road to getting back on track, but we are starting the year with a bang-seven new members thanks to Michael Rogers! This is clearly a modern (if not all-time) record. Kudos to Mike. We will do our best not to let his new recruits down.
KSS Member Meeting: I had the honor and pleasure of meeting one of KSSís most senior and esteemed members at a conference my institute hosted on February 19 at Western Washington University-80 miles north of Seattle. It turns out that this long-time member, Sgt. Maj. (Ret.) Raymond W. Radke participated in the Incheon Landing! I had never met a participant before. He peppered our keynote speaker, Chosun Ilboís famous columnist Kim Dae-joong, with tough questions about the threat posed by North Korea. My plans to hold a KSS meeting at AmeriStamp Expo 2004 in Virginia at the end of January fell through at the last minute. I was really looking forward to catching up with former KSS president Donald Vorhis and seeing his exhibit.
Korea-related Stamps in the News: The philatelic event of the year will clearly be the issuance of the Deok-do and the controversy they sparked with Japan. It was perhaps the first time ever that a set of Korean stamps were featured in both the New York Times and Washington Post. As luck would have it, the stamps gave me the chance to appear for two minutes on the SBS Evening News shortly after the Lunar New Year. A film crew followed me around for a day to film me at my desk, teaching at American University and with my family. Most importantly for KSS, I was able to not only talk about the stamps and the rocks, but also show off my favorite cancels and stamps! The title of the segment was "A Blue-Eyed Personís Love of Korea Through Stamps." The correspondent tells me that he received a number of inquiries. Of course I will try to persuade one and all to join KSS!
KSS Member Robert Collins wrote a nice feature story on the "Hubba Hubba" handstamp in the December issue of American Philately and managed to spark a debate on the origins of the expression. A Linnís article on the issuance of Iraqís first post-Saddam Hussein stamps nine months after the fall of Baghdad reminded me how difficult it must have been for the U.S. Military Government in Korea to issue the first liberation stamps in eight and a half months. Given that it took decades for economic development and democracy to take root in South Korea, based on this crude stamp indicator, we more than likely face a very long and difficult road ahead in Iraq. An October 2003 American Philatelist article about autographs on stamps included a picture of the Park Chung-hee Lyndon Johnson stamp with Johnsonís autograph over the stamp. I try not to be too much of a purist or prude when it comes to philately, but I find this practice abhorrent. I have seen a similar item with Syngman Rheeís signature on eBay, but I could not bring my self to bid on it, despite my deep interest in political themes. Sign the envelope, not the stamp!!!
Philatelic Finds and Questions: I was recently able to obtain my third and fourth examples of the Chinampo cancel, but they share the date of my previous two (separate) finds: April 20, 1901. Do any of our members have examples of the cancel on other dates. Is this more than likely a philatelic cancel, or was the postmaster just getting caught up with the mail? I managed to find yet another new double circle-Nam-won, and I reached my interim goal of 100 different split circle cancels. Less than 300 to go!
Travels: 115,000 miles was even more than I wanted to travel last year and one I hope not to duplicate this year, but 2004 got off to an interesting start with an opportunity to give a lecture to our soldiers in Guam. Instead of a non-stop flight, I took the "Island hopper express" from Honolulu, making five stops in the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia-the poor manís way to visit two new countries! Guam and the island hopping were good experiences, but once is more than enough! I have also had trips to North Carolina (Duke University), Montreal (McGill University) and Florida (Air Force Strategic Operations School). I hope I will be able to meet KSS members during future travels!