ROK/South Korea

Five months after U. S. troops landed in the Southern part of the Korean peninsula, in September 1945, six overprinted/surcharged Japanese stamps were temporarily placed in use on February 1, 1946. This was under the direction of the U. S. Military Government. See the Overprinted Japanese Stamps

Five months later, on June 30, 1946, the six overprinted/surcharged Japanese stamps were withdrawn from use; having been replaced by the Korean designed, but Japanese printed, six stamp "Liberation from Japanese Rule" set, which were issued May 1, 1946.
See the "Liberation from Japanese Rule" set

By    Lee Dong-Sung
Editing Adviser with Doosan

For the first time in 1946, South Koreans, working within the U. S. Military Government Office, selected five topics to be issued during September - November 1946. They selected, five different themes for the stamp designs, which they felt were most symbolic, and that best represented Korea. These five designs were; the map of Korea, the national flower of Korea “Rose of Sharron”, the gold crown and the stone-tower for astronomical observation (both produced or built in the days of ancient “Shilla”, and considered symbolic as well as most representative of Korea’s fine art and science in those ancient days) and last but not least, the bronze statue of Admiral Yi Sun-shin as the historical character to be remembered for ever and ever by all Koreans.

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Shown here are the stamps most appropriate for our philatelic purpose, not in a quite refined way, as they are still printed in typography. The stamps were issued during the U.S. Military Government, but they illustrate very well the excitement of the Korean people on the occasion of the Liberation.

Proof & Presentation Sheets

Proof &Presentation Sheets

South Korea, is the most gift-giving society that I have had the privilege to live amongst. It was, therefore, no surprise to me when I learned of a postal-episode that occurred from 1946 through September 1, 1957.

A by-product of the stamp design phase, are practice printings -Proofs, of stamp designs that are close to completion. These are passed among the decision makers, seeking the final decision; go with this design, or, change this or that about the design, and then print some more Proofs.

As soon as the S. Koreans took over the Postal planning and operation, under the U.S. Military Government, they began to give gifts of the final Kyong Yang She-tuh/Proof Sheets of stamp designs, mostly to high-ranking individuals in the Interim Government. This practice continued through October 1, 1948.

At the dawning of the Republic of South Korea, the Bureau of Posts decided to jack-up the gift-giving practice, by producing a pseudo-Proof Sheet with a printed topic description at the bottom. This new sheet became to be known as a Jung-jong She-tuh/Presentation Sheet, and records indicate that 300 each, of the first 21 sheets were produced: July 1, 1948 - November 20, 1950.

If one compares the issue dates of the 18th Presentation Sheet-1950.05.30, "The 2nd General Election", with history; one can plot the give-and-take of the Korean War, which began during the early-morning hours on June 25, 1950, with North Korea's attack. The next three stamp issues, and therefore the next three Presentation Sheets (the 19th, 20th, and 21st), didn't occurr until 1950.11.20, after the U.N. forces' landing at Inchon, and the subsequent, "retaking of Seoul".

During the period 1951.09.25 - 1952.02.10, the Bureau of Posts issued 44 stamps (22 Green background, and 22 Blue background) identifying the 21 participating countries in the U.N. Forces, which were then involved in the Korean War; (Both green-background and blue-background stamps were printed for Italy, 1951.10.25; with a crown on the Italian Flag. On 1952.02.10, a second set of stamps were printed for Italy, without the Royal symbol of the Crown). At the same time 22 Presentation Sheets, which included both the green & blue background images were printed, in the quantity of 2,000 each. These Presentation Sheets have become the most highly sought-after, over the years.

Presentation Sheets No. 49-107, were printed in a consistant manner during the period 1952.02.22-1956.12.04. It was the dawning of 1957, that the recipiants of the previous Presentation Sheets should have noticed a huge design change. Presentation Sheet #'s 108 & 109 (1957.01.31 & 1957.02.27) were printed in miniature-sheet format, and didn't contain the former topic description; but; announced the topic in English. The final 11 Presentation Sheets, were produced in the miniature-sheet format.

On November 7, 1957, the Ministry of Communications issued the first Soe-hyung She-tuh/S-S through normal postal channels. It contained images of stamp#'s 242 & 243; "Commerce Treaty with the USA"; and was issued in the amount of 2,000.

Soe-hyung, literally translated means "smaller version of", or "miniature of", and has no relationship to "souvenir" or "rememberance". It is not known to me, who began the "Souvenir Sheet" class of philatelic item, that has ensued for the past fifty years.

Proof &Presentation Sheets

War-Time Stamp Series

As printed in A Handbook of Korea;
9th Edition: 1993;

Early on the Sunday morning of June 25, 1950, without any warning or declaration of war, North Korean troops invaded the unprepared South across the 38th parallel. It was a well-prepared, all-out attack. South Korea’s troops fought bravely, but proved no match for the heavily armed Communists and the Russian T-3 tanks, who were not checked until they reached the Naktong River near Taegu.

The Republic of Korea appealed to the United Nations. In response, the Security Council passed a resolution ordering the Communists to withdraw to the 38th parallel and encouraged all member countries to give military support to the Republic. U.S. troops soon began to arrive, and were subsequently joined by those from 15 other nations: Australia, New Zealand, Britain, France, Canada, South Africa, Turkey, Thailand, Greece, Netherlands, Ethiopia, Columbia, the Philippines, Belgium, and Luxemburg. The three Scandinavian countries sent hospitals along with medical personnel.

Under the command of Gen. Douglas MacArther, the allied forces began to take the initiative, and after a surprise landing at Inch’On, pushed the Communists out of South Korea and advanced into the North.

But in October the Communist Chinese intervened, throwing such large numbers of troops into battle that the U.N. forces were forced to retreat. Seoul once again fell into Communist hands on January 4, 1951. The U.N. Forces regrouped and mounted a counterattack, retaking Seoul on March 12. A stalemate was reached roughly in the area along the 38th parallel, where the conflict had begun.

At this point the Russians called for truce negotiations, which finally began at Kaesong in July of 1951, and were transferred to P’anmunjom in November of that year. The talks dragged on for two years before an armistice agreement was reached on July 27, 1953.

By June 1951, Seoul had been occupied twice, by the North Korean/Chinese forces. Considering the loss of people and equipment, that occurred during the two occupations; plus the financial insecurity that ensued, one can understand the requirement for a War-Time -Surcharge, that the Postal Administration envoked.

War-Time Surcharged Stamps

During the period 1951.09.25 - 1952.02.10, the Bureau of Posts issued 44 stamps (22 Green background, and 22 Blue background) identifying the 21 participating countries in the U.N. Forces, which were then involved in the Korean War; (Both green-background and blue-background stamps were printed for Italy, 1951.10.25; with a crown on the Italian Flag. On 1952.02.10, a second set of stamps were printed for Italy, without the Royal symbol of the Crown). At the same time 22 Presentation Sheets, which included both the green & blue background images were printed, in the quantity of 2,000 each. These Presentation Sheets have become the most highly sought-after, over the years.

Countries Participating in the Korea War-Stamp Issue

During the period 1953-08-01 through 1955-11-11, all stamps issued by the Republic of Korea contained a changed "country-name-line".   From "Tae-han Min-gook Oop-yoe/Republic of Korea Stamp", to "Tae-han Min-gook Oo-jong/Republic of Korea Postal Administration".

Tae-han Min-gook Oop-yoe/
Republic of Korea Stamp

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Issued 1953.04.05

Tae-han Min-gook Oo-jong/
Republic of Korea Postal Administration

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       Issued 1953.08.01 and 1953.10.25.

With the first issues of 1956, the "country-name-line" returned to "Tae-han Min-gook Oop-yoe/Republic of Korea Stamp":

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Issued 1956.03.26 and 1956.06.01

On July 20,1956, the Ministry Of Communications issued S. Korea's first "Official Stamp Book", containing five specially prepared sheetlets of two columns of three perforated stamps=6x5=30 stamps total. The contents stamp was the Dark Blue 20 hwan "Industrial Reconstruction Series' stamp issued May 15, 1956.

Go to Official Books

1957 marked the history of Korean Philately, with the first issue of a new class of stamp: "Yon-ha Oop-yoe/New Year's greetings Stamp". This class of stamp, continues to be issued today.

Issued 1957.12.11
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It seems that as an afterthought, a commemorative stamp and souvenir sheet were issued 1958.05.20 honoring "The 2nd Postal Week"; with no 1st Postal Week stamp issue in sight.

The following year, 1959, in celebration of the 3rd Postal Week a new philatelic class of item was generated on 1959.05.20; what this WebSite referrs to as a "Special Sheet".
What's a Special Sheet

1960, saw the second Special Sheet generated for the 4th Postal Week, on 1960.10.07.

Obviously, the Bureau of Posts plans to issue the third Special Sheet in celebration of the 5th Postal Week, (which was planned for 1961.05.20), was curtailed due to Park Chon-hee's Military Revolution, which began on 1961.05.16, 4 days before the planned release. Five years later, the completed Special Sheet was taken off-the-shelf and over-printed with the 6th Postal Week, and issued on 1966.06.13.

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1958.05.20     1959.05.20      1960.10.07             1966.06.13

By the end of 1962, the time had arrived for the Ministry of Communication's Bureau of Post to plan and execute the first "series of stamp issues" over an extended period of time. This was done with the "First Five-Year Economic Development Plan"; a series of stamp issues that began in 1962 with the issue of two stamps, and continued for the next five years.

As of June 2001, 40 series-of-stamps have been opened, with series#'s 37-40 still open. Series# 41, Korean Food Series is scheduled to start June 15, and Series# 42, Korean Orchid Series is scheduled to start November 12 of this year.

For those who read Hangul, and have seen the stamp listings of the Korean Postage Stamp Catalogue (KPC), or the Korean Standard Stamp Catalogue (KSC), I draw your attention to two stamp listings which are identified as Shee-ree-ju/Series: 1963.12.17; National Musical Instruments; and 1964.05.25; 1st Sightseeing Series/Tourist Attractions. Since all of the stamps involved in these two issues were printed and released on the Issue-date, I consider these issues to be "sets-of- stamps", and not "series".

Collector Booklets, (How I, and others, classify two types of booklets available from the Korean Philatelic Center) were available from May 20, 1989 until November 16, 2000. Obviously, prepared from "Full Sheets" of stamps, the Booklets cost the buyer 500 won/$.50 more than the face-value of the stamps contained.

Coll. Book/let: (Collector) How I, and others, classify two types of booklets available from the Korean Philatelic Center; which is inscribed on the rear-cover. ("KPC" was one of MIC's marketing branches; which it is believed was operated by a Korean Company called "CSF").
      Type 1, "Souvenir Booklet", was available from May 20, 1989-1995, plus subsequent "Beauty Series" issues, 95-97. Type 1, always has a stamp on the front-cover, canceled with a commemorative-cancel.
      Type 2, "Hue-dae-yong Oop-yoe Chup/((Portable (use) Stamp Booklet", was first available with the 07.24.95, "Wild Flower Series (6th)" issue, and continued to be issued until the final Booklet issue, on November 16, 2000, for the final "Korean Beauty Series (10th Issue)). The Type 2 booklet's appearence, can be characterized as a more-compact, high-tech glossy rendition, of the stamp-topic contained.

Go to "Collector Booklets"

South Korea's 1st Cinderella/label stamp, issued Oct. 10, 1996. The 200th Anniv. of the Dedication of the Suwon Castle issue, was presented to the public in a Special Sheet of 10 stamps. The sheet's artistically designed selvage contained South Korea's 1st Cinderella/label stamp.
See the Special Sheet
See the Label

South Korea's first aromatic stamps were issued Feb. 25, 2000. Take note that Sedirea japonica (Lindenb. et Rchb. f.) Gray et Sweet, Lillium cernum Komarov, Hibiscus hamabo Sieb. et Zucc., and Cypripedium japonicum Thunberg are the first aromatic stamps issued in Korea. How about greeting this coming spring with these stamps laden with the scent of violets.
See the Special Sheet

South Korea's first non-rectangle stamp is issued in the shape of a "Heart", April 20, 2000. This special stamp is the first Korean stamp in the shape of a heart. This stamp is also the second aromatic stamp, following the Protection of the Endangered Species special stamp issued this year.
See the Heart-shaped stamp

Die-cut peel-and-stick stamps are issued Dec. 22, 2000. The Ministry of Information and Communication will be issuing the New Year's stamps on December 22 to be sold In sheets of both conventional perforated and newly-introduced die-cut versions. The die-cut peel-and-stick stamps, stamps that are separated from one another by die-cutting, are introduced on this New Year's stamp for the first time in Korea.
See the Die-cut stamps

"MY OWN STAMP" program is launched. The 2000 National Postage Stamp Exhibition was held from August 2 through 7, 2000, at the First Exhibition Room of the Pacific Hall on the first floor of the Convention and Exhibition Center (COEX) at Samsung-dong, Kangnam-gu, Seoul.

Exhibition visitors came across a booth, that advocated they take digital photos, supply they're favorite photos, or, supply their personal or company logos; to be turned into ten Korean label-stamps. These ten label-stamps, were then to be printed in the second and fourth columns of a stamp sheet. The first and third columns would contain five each of a reprint of the Definitive stamp of Dec. 15, 1997, entitled "Australian Curlew" a long-beaked bird.
See the sheet

April 30, 2001. The brandnew postage concept, "My Own Stamp", elicited enthusiastic response and keen attention when its demonstration version made its debut during the 2000 Korea Postage Stamp Exhibition. Now fully materialized, this stamp concept has made itself readily available to willing customers.

My Own Stamp is a postage stamp made on demand by printing either the customer's picture or a corporation's logo next to a regular postage stamp. The procedure comprises two steps: printing a regular postage stamp leaving an adjacent and same-size space empty, and subsequently incorporating either a customer photo or a corporate logo in the earmaked space. On-the-spot photo-taking of customers is available, with the use of digital cameras. Customers can also choose to mail in their ready-to-use photos.

This round of issuing of "My Own Stamp", the first ever of its kind in Korea, offers four different designs: 'love', 'gratitude', 'congratulations' and 'birthday'. Orders for 'love' and 'gratitude' stamps can be placed in post offices throughout the country starting from April 30. 'Congratulations' and 'birthday' stamps are scheduled to be released on June 1st and July 2nd respectively. My Own Stamp is to be mailed to the customer. On-the-spot photo taking is available either at the Seoul Central Post Office ,in large-scale, stamp-related events held in Korea, including the World Postage Stamp Exhibition. The price of a full sheet, which comprises 20 stamps printed together with either 20 customer photos, or 20 corporate logos, is 7,000 Korean won. Stamps with empty spaces for later incorporation of photos or advertisements are not available. The printed photos or logos can be considered as tokens of having paid postal charges insofar as they are used in tandem with regular stamps bearing the specific amount of postal charges.
See the "Love"; April 30, 2001
See the "Gratitude"; April 30, 2001
See the "Congratulations"; June 1, 2001
See the "Birthday"; July 2, 2001

With the adjustment in postal rates effective as of January 15, 2002, the postage for My Own Stamp is changed to 190 won and the four themes of love, gratitude, congratulations and birthday will be issued in new designs.
See the "Love"; Jan. 15, 2002
See the "Gratitude"; Jan. 15, 2002
See the "Congratulations"; Jan. 15, 2002
See the "Birthday"; Jan. 15, 2002

With the adjustment in postal service fees effective as of November 1, 2004, the Korea Post will issue new versions of "My Own Stamp." The newly-issued My Own Stamp offers a variety of choices not only in the design of the postage stamp but also in the full sheet used in the stamps.

The full sheet for the Taegeukgi (National Flag of Korea), Fortune, and Crape Myrtle stamps will offer 20 stamps, respectively, as in the past as well as 20 pictures or images from which customers can freely choose according to their tastes.

As for the Taegeukgi, Bible, and Lotus Flower stamps, 14 stamps and 14 photos of the customer will be offered as well as a PR image of the customer's choice at the center of the full sheet, providing a unique composition.

The newly-designed My Own Stamp offers customers a variety of choices from the Bible and the Lotus Flower stamps each depicting Christianity and Buddhism; to Animal Friends: Teddy Bear, Baby Dinosaur, and Letter Envelope stamps, which are endearing and amusingly designed to appeal to the younger generation.
Sheet# 1.
Sheet# 2.
Sheet# 3.
Sheet# 4.
Sheet# 5.
Sheet# 6.
Sheet# 7.
Sheet# 8.

June 2, 2006. As a follow-on to the 2002-World Cup-Korea/Japan, Korea has issued a sheet-of-stamps in honor of 2006-World Cup-Germany, which it has classified as a member of "My Own Stamp program".

Effective Nov.1, 2006, the basic-rate for comemmorative stamps increased from 220 won to 250 won. In conjunction with the rate change, a "My Own Stamp" was issued.

On March 21, 2007 a new design for the My Own Stamp is being issued to enable the people to experience more diverse enjoyment. The My Own Stamps issued at this time feature the sunflower, clover and a golden pig, with a new type of sheet comprising nine stamps and nine pictures also introduced.
Sheet# 1.
Sheet# 2.
Sheet# 3.

On May 19, 2008, With the launching of the new government (February 25, 2008), Korea Post, which was formerly a part of the Ministry of Information and Communication, was placed under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Knowledge and Economy. To mark this change in the stamp-issuing institution, My Own Stamps in new designs are issued. A total of 4 different My Own Stamps are newly introduced, in a new sheet form composed of only 3 stamps.

On December 1, 2010, “My Own Stamp” in a new silhouette is issued.

Unlike the existing “My Own Stamp” where the photo or the image desired by the customer is inserted on the side of the stamp, the newly issued “My Own Stamp” will be an all-in-one (frame) type where customer’s image can be inserted directly into a section of stamp’s printed portion -- the section where the country name Korea and face value are displayed. The stamp sheet come in 3 different types: the “basic type” comprising 20 stamps; “sheet type” composed of 6 stamps and the larger image the customer desires; and the “PR type” composed of 14 stamps and a larger image the customer wants placed in the middle of the concerned sheet. Each of these 3 types will be printed in 3 different colors of light green, blue and pink, bringing the total number of newly issued sheets to nine. Sales price of these sheets will be 9,500 KRW for the basic type, 8,000 KRW for the PR type, and 5,500 KRW for the sheet type. Beginning from 11th sheet, the sales price will be discounted on a pro-rata basis.

2771_73    2771_73


   You are at Phila-3; One big-string
Go to 1945-46
Go to Proof & Presentation Sheets
Go to "War-time Surcharge"
Go to "Changed-Country-Name-line"
Go to "Official Books"
Go to "New Year's Greetings"
Go to "The Beginning of Special Sheets"
Go to "The Beginning of Series"
Go to "Collector Booklets"
Go to "My Own Stamp" program

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