A New Beginning: After three wonderful years in Seoul, I am happy to report that I have returned to the Washington, D.C. area to become the executive director for the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (www.hrnk.org). HRNK is a non-government organization working to raise public awareness about North Korea and put pressure on Pyongyang and other key governments to improve the human rights situation in the North. I am working just two buildings away from my old office at the Korea Economic Institute. The good news is that for the first time in my life, I don't have anyone working above me. The bad news is, I don't have anyone working below me! However, like my previous jobs with ICG and KEI, I have a very demanding job requiring lots of travel. Last week was the most crazy as I made trips to Florida, Vermont and Iowa. This week I am only visiting Texas, while next week I will give a talk at Columbia University. Despite my demanding job and an equally demanding five-year-old daughter, I will do my best to carve out more time for our society and the greatest hobby in the world.
KSS Meeting?: I think our best chance at having a meeting of our members in the coming months will be at the APS's AmeriStamp Expo in Charlotte, North Carolina from January 11-13. Please let me know if you are planning to attend! The best way to reach me is (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Auctions: I am starting to wonder if traditional auctions are a dying breed. It has been ages since I can recall Michael Rogers or any of the major auction houses offering any interesting or unusual Korean material. On the other hand, I never cease to be amazed at what I can find on eBay. I will give you two recent examples of covers that were not quite in my price range. In mid-October, Ruby Stamps offered a 1901 registered cover to Hannover that included the ship cancel "Piroscafi Esteri" as well as Shanghai and Naples transit cancels. The sender seems to have overpaid for the journey, making me wonder if it is a philatelic cover, but it was so interesting. It sold for $565. A few days earlier, a 1948 cover with all of my favorite early commemoratives, including the first Syngman Rhee stamp, sold around $800. I had never seen covers like these before.
Philatelic Finds: Due to moving and starting a new job, I have had even less time than usual for my collection, but I have managed to find some wonderful double circle cancels. After finding Kyeong-seong, I now have 23 of the 26 double circle cancels and enough Hanseong, Incheon, Dongrae, and Taegu cancels to do a real study of them. Someday!
Peter M. Beck
U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea
1025 F Street, NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20004-1409 USA