President's Notes: May 2002

My notes will be briefer than usual due to the birth of our beautiful daughter, Julia Ae-ri Beck, on February 27, 2002. Gary kindly reported this in the February issue. Once mother and baby were doing fine and I was ordered to go home, the philatelist in me took over and I ran to the post office to have a few birthday covers made up (see photo). The envelope was purchased by my step-father for use to my mother while he was working as a consultant on a project at Osan Air Force Base in 1980-my familyís first contact with Korea. The love stamp actually has two meanings, and the first Chinese character in our daughterís name means "love" (the second character means plum, which is my wifeís family name). At two months, she can smile and coo, which makes her ready to appear on a postage stamp! Even if she never collects stamps, hopefully she will keep the cover and stamps! Julia has brought us unimaginable joy and happiness.

See the Cover

KSS Meetings: I have arranged for KSS to meet at NAPEX on either June 1 or June 2, but I have not received the details yet. Unfortunately, I will be at a conference at Columbia University that weekend, so if another member would be able to give a presentation or just host a meeting for members and the curious, that would be great. You can reach me by e-mail at either or (I can only check the former address in my office). I do plan to hold a meeting at STAMPSHOW in Atlantic City from August 15-18. will give a brief presentation on my expanding collection of errors, freaks and oddities. It will primarily focus on the Kingdom/Empire period, but I will also discuss the 1945-55 period. Please let me know if you can make it!

Member Encounter: My instituteís seminar with the University of Sheffield (U.K.) provided me with an opportunity to meet one of our newest members, Dr. James Grayson, a professor of Korean folklore and religion. He has just published a book on Korean folk tales and will have the second edition of his work on religion in Korea published this fall. I cannot recommend these books more highly. In addition to teaching me a great deal, he was one of the most kind and gracious hosts I have ever encountered. He provided my colleague and I with a tour of his beautiful city, which was nothing like the most famous movie ever filmed in Sheffield, "The Full Monty." When the conversation inevitably turned to stamps, I was not surprised to learn that Prof. Graysonís favorites are the fables series from the late 1960s. Hopefully he will contribute an article to KP that brings together his research and love for Korean stamps!

Philatelic Find: My philatelic find of the quarter was a double circle cancel as part of an auction lot. I could not quite make the Chinese character out in the image of the lot, but I knew it was not Seoul or Incheon. Much to my surprise, it was "Won," as in Wonsan. That makes 16, with 10 more to go. I realize that even over the next 50 years, I will be lucky if I can surpass 20.

Our Society: Jim Kerr was kind enough to send me one of the earliest issues of Korean Philately. It is amazing how much our journal has progressed over the past 50 years. However, "A Few Words from the President" rings as true today as it did then. In Vol. 1, No. 10 (July 1952), President Albert Kemmesies writes, "As a member, are YOU doing your part? Are you contributing to the furtherance of our mutual hobby by sending in notes, articles or information to our editor? "Are you trying to interest more philatelists in the study and collecting of Korea?" It is my sincere hope that during the year, we can all answer these questions in the affirmative.

Travels: My biggest trip of the year is now taking shape. I will present a paper in New York at the end of May, and then go on to Tokyo to make a presentation and then Beijing for a conference sponsored by my institute. I will end the trip with a week in Seoul, with my wife, who will have already arrived to introduce our daughter to her Korean relatives. I have no plans to attend the World Cup. I guess I am a doer rather than a watcher.

Spring has been spectacular in the Washington, D.C. area. First the forsythia announced the arrival of spring. A few weeks later, just when the cherry blossoms were fading, the dogwoods kicked in. Now that they are almost done, azaleas of every imaginable hue can be seen. I hope your spring has been just as beautiful.

Back to Top
Return to Presidential-Notes History
Return to KSS-Main