President's Notes: AUGUST, 2001
KSS Upgrades:  Even during the dog days of summer, the Korea Stamp Society’s officers and members have been hard at work! Two proposed changes are now official. I am very pleased to announce that Bill Collyer has graciously agreed to serve as KSS’s librarian. We still plan to move our main library to the Western Philatelic Library by the end of the summer, but Bill will act as our clearinghouse and liaison between our society and the library. This is the best of both worlds as the WPL will make our collection available to the world, and Bill can make sure that our society’s interests are well represented. This all became possible because Bill took the plunge into the Internet! He has already passed me up-I received a message yesterday from him, even though he is in Japan! The second major change is that Everett Parker is now our publisher. This should mean an even higher duality publication and better service!

KSS Gatherings:  Jim Kerr would like to see if any of our members would like to meet at SESCAL in October. Please let one of us know if you are interested. It has been quite a while since more than two KSS members gathered. We are also still searching for suggestions as to how KSS should mark its 50th anniversary next year.

Putting Stamps to Work:  My biggest concern remains keeping our society and our hobby in general as vibrant as ever. This began by making sure that a commemorative was placed on each copy of my institute’s 2000-circulation monthly, Korea Insight (if you would like to receive a copy, by the way, just drop me a line!). More recently, following the lead of KSS member, Ross King, I have begun to integrate stamps into more and more of my presentations. I did this most recently last month for classes at the Foreign Affairs Training Center in Arlington, Virginia, and at the Air Force Special Operations School in Ft. Walton Beach (Pensacola), Florida. In both cases, I was asked to provide a broad overview of modern Korean history, and I decided, what better way to do that than through stamps! I started with examples of Empire stamps and the Shanghai Provisional Government revenue, then moved on to the first elections in 1948 and the many stamps of the period featuring the United States flag, followed by the 4.19 Student Revolution of 1960 and the 5.16 Military Coup and Five-Year Economic Plan stamps that soon followed, and, of course, Korea’s various presidents, up through the Kim Dae-jung Nobel Prize stamp. In their follow-up notes to me, both hosts mentioned the stamps as the “unique” part of my presentation-one even admitted to being a closet collector! We must all do what we can to bring our hobby to the wider public.

Seoul Stamping:  During my visit to Seoul in May, I did not have as much time for stamping as I would have liked, but I did have a chance to visit my friend, Lee Sang-kyun, at the Korea Philatelic Center. He told me of their ongoing struggles to attract collectors to the hobby. Their most successful effort to date has been the personalized stamps that allow you to place your own picture in the selvage of a sheet of stamps. This was a natural winner given Korean children’s love for mug shot photo stickers. Even the Hyundai Group got into the act recently by ordering a million copies with the group’s recently departed founder, Chung Ju-young, in the selvage. This personalized stamp received wide coverage in the Korean press in mid-July.

SS Korea Mystery Solved!:  Dr. Robert Spaulding, who has set the standard for Asian philatelic journals with his long-time (record?) stewardship of Japanese Philately, was kind enough to answer all of my questions about the origins of theSS Korea, using an article he wrote before I was born! The SS Korea was built by Newport News (Virginia) Shipbuilding in 1901 and was used by Pacific Mail for the San Francisco-Hong Kong-Manila service route from 1902-1915. After being sold to the Atlantic Transport Co. in 1915, it was purchased by the Toyo Kisen Kaisha (East Asia Steamship Company) in 1916 and renamed Korea Maru. It operated a sea post office from 1916-1921. The post office reopened for five weeks in 1930. The ship was scrapped in 1934. Does anyone have a nice example of the post card to share with Korean Philately?

On the Road Again:  By the time you receive this copy of KP, my wife and I will be in Europe for a huge gathering of European Asia specialists at Free University Berlin and a seminar at the University of Stockholm the following week. Despite my best efforts, it appears that I will not be able to meet any of our European members, though I did receive a kind note from member Boris Ritsberg in Sweden, who is recovering from a recent hospitalization. We are very curious to see what life is like in the eastern part of Germany more than 10 years after unification. If Germany is any indication, Korean unification will take a very long time both to begin and complete. North Korea has often held Sweden up as a model for development. We’ll try to find out if there is anything they can emulate besides Sweden’s saunas! Europe will be followed by two trips to California, Chicago, and Maine (Bowdoin College), with more places in the works!

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