Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 Christmas Seals

Depicted are the 2011 Christmas Seals issued by South Korea...My friend Eunju sent two of these sheets to my family as a Christmas gift. It appears the Pororo theme was quite popular in South Korea this year!

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Korean Liberator Cover - 20 May 1946 (Part 2)

Greetings! After a long absence I am back. Today's post features a cover marking the first trip of the Korean Liberator that occurred on 20 May 1946. I acquired my first Korean Liberator cover this past spring and I have since fallen in love with them and have been seeking them out for my collection. The one depicted is the second one I have acquired. In my opinion these are great to collect. So far all I have seen were mailed by U.S. Army personnel and naturally all of the covers have the 1946 commemorative stamps marking the liberation from Japanese rule. I haven't quite figured out why, but I am particularly fond of this stamp issue as well!

If you have any of these covers or stamps in your collection and are willing to part with them please send me an email.

I hope everyone has a great week!

Friday, May 13, 2011

State Visit of President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1960)

Today's stamp issue includes both the stamp and souvenir sheet issued to commemorate President Dwight D. Eisenhower's visit to South Korea. I added these two items to my collection sometime last year, first the stamp and later the s/s after getting a good deal on an auction site. I enjoy having these two items in my collection. Like many of the earlier produced souvenir sheets for South Korea the watermark is readily apparent on these. Here are the specifics for this issue:

  • Date of Issue: 19 June 1960
  • Scott Catalogue #: 305
  • Korea Postage stamp Catalogue #: C131
  • Quantity Produced: 500,000 stamps & 30,000 souvenir sheets

I have not been able to track down an official press release from the South Korean Ministry of Communication for this stamp issue, but I know from other research that President Eisenhower spoke to the National Assembly of Korea during his trip. Eisenhower's speech to the National Assembly of Korea can be read here

First Day Cover of Eisenhower Issue

The life of Dwight D. Eisenhower is a fascinating one. From his upbringing, to his career in the military, and later as President his life is an interesting one to study and one can't help but respect his time in service to the United States.

Greeting Sign for President Eisenhower during his Visit to South Korea

I've read about President Eisenhower during WWII quite a bit when he was a 5 star General, but I was largely unfamiliar with his trips to South Korea both in 1952 and in 1960. This is a neat stamp issue by South Korea and I am glad I have these two items in my collection.

Until next time....

Sunday, May 1, 2011

"The Korean Liberator" Cover - 20 May 1946

Today's post is of a cover I recently purchased that commemorates the first trip of "The Korean Liberator", a Korean streamliner, that traveled from Seoul to Busan on 20 May 1946. This is a very interesting cover in my opinion and coincidentally the first cover to be added to my growing Korea collection. Tied to the cover are all six of the "Liberation from Japanese Rule" commemoratives, which is fitting for the first trip of "The Korean Liberator" streamliner. The cover was addressed to a Mr. & Mrs. John Knodle in Syracuse, NY by a Major H. C. Watkins who presumably worked in the Department of Finance for the U.S. Army Military Government in Korea (USAMGIK).

I tried to find additional information on "The Korean Liberator"; however, the information out there on the internet is rather sparse. I did turn up a couple similar covers for sale in the UK and a couple Korean websites that made brief mention of the streamliner, but I didn't find anything all that enlightening. Does anyone out there have additional background on this streamliner and the first trip on 20 May 1946?

I really like this cover and if I can find any other "first trip" covers for this streamliner I will try and snatch them up. Perhaps someone out there has one in their collection they would be willing to part with? If so, please send me an email!

Have a great evening! Until next time...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

600th Anniversary of Founding Songkyunkwan (1998)

Today's stamp issue commemorates the 600th Anniversary of the founding of Songkyunkwan. I recently purchased a lot of stamps from 1998 and this one in particular caught my eye. Depicted on the stamp is a Confucian lecture hall and behind it is a gingko tree, which are commonly found near Confucian temples and schools. The production and catalogue details for this issue are as follows:

  • Date of Issue: 25 September 1998
  • Scott Catalogue #: 1940
  • Korea Postage stamp Catalogue #: C1495
  • Quantity Produced: 3,000,000 

The Korea Stamp Society has the official description of this stamp as given by the ROK Ministry of Communication on its website, which I've provided below:

The history of higher education in Korea began with T'aehak, founded in the Koguryo kingdom in 372 A.D. It was, however, not until Sungkyunkwan-the predecessor of Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU)-was founded in the seventh cycle of the lunar calendar in 1398 during the early Choson period that a medieval university in its true sense came into existence. King Taejo founded Sungyunkwan four years after moving the seat of government to Seoul, endowing the new university with all necessary facilities.
Even then, the university was the same size as it is today, and stands on its original site in Myungyun-dong. As the supreme institution of higher learning all throughout the Choson dynasty, Sungkyunkwan served the people of Korea by producing talented government officials, It strove to live up to its founding spirit of "Building character and justly governing the people". Sungkyunkwan was indeed the alma mater of most of Korea's distinguished scholars, thereby contributing to the advancement of the national culture. 
In 1895, Sungkyunkwan became the nation's first modern university when the three-year Confucian classics department was established by royal decree by King Kojong. Sungkyunkwan was stripped of all its educational functions after the Janpanese annexation of Korea, prompting many of its alumni to participate with even greater determination in the country for the restoration of Korea's national sovereignty. After liberation, Sungkyunkwan University was reestablished as a private college in 1946 with Kim Ch'ang-sook, an independence fighter and prominent Confucian scholar, serving as its first dean. This venerable institution of higher learning has since been reinventing itself while carrying on the proud 600-year-long tradition as Korea's national university. 
On the occasion of its 600th birthday, the university is holding a number of different events including the "World Forum for Presidents of Time-Honored Universities". Most important, is that the university is working hard to uphold the ideals of Benevo Righteousness, Propriety, and Wisdom, and is unfolding its 'Vision 2010' Development Plan in expectation of remaking itsself as the world center of Asian and Korean studies. 
On September 25, 1998, the Ministry of Information and Communication is issuing a commemorative stamp to celebrate the 600th anniversary of Sungkyunkwan University, Korea's oldest such institution. This new stamp features Myungnyundang Hall, where students of Confucianism once studied, and a gingko tree is known as "Gingko Platform" and is a symbol of Confucian learning as legend has it that Confucius used to teach his students under a gingiko tree. Let friends and family have a glimpse into Sungkyunkwan University's unique and storied history by sending them letters bearing this stamp today. 

I was curious to see what the modern university looks like and found the university website (english version), which can be accessed here. The website is full of great information about Songkyunkwan...everything from notable students to a breakdown of the meaning of the university logo, which I've provided below.

Meaning of the Songkyunkwan Logo - as it appears on the university website

Quite an interesting history! Next time I'm in Korea I will have to see if I can't squeeze a visit to Songkyunkwan University and take a stroll around the campus...

Until next time...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Korean Postage stamp Catalogue (KPC)

Today's post is on the Korean Postage stamp Catalogue (KPC). For collectors of Korean stamps there is no better catalogue out there and I would go as far as to say that owning this catalogue is almost mandatory. My wife picked me up a copy of this catalogue while in Seoul last summer (~ $30) and at the time I was not yet decided on whether I wanted to specialize in collecting Korean stamps or not. Well needless to say after spending a week or so flipping through the catalogue and getting acquainted with the variety of stamp issues for South Korea I decided I was going to focus on this country.

While I do not necessarily use this catalogue as a price guide (one needs to convert from won to dollars if they do), I do rely on it heavily for details about the stamp issue and I use it as my checklist for what I own and what I still need to hunt for.

The pros to this catalogue is it depicts EVERY stamp that has been issued so you are able to clearly see color variations and stamp designs. One of my biggest problems with the Scott Catalogue is they only depict a small overall percentage of stamps issued, which makes identification difficult at times. Another thing I like about this catalogue is there are small empty squares beside the price, which is perfect for use as a checklist. For me I fill in the square if I have the stamp already and the remaining empty ones are the issues I still need to track down. The size of the catalogue is also convenient and allows for one to easily carry it around without being burdened by the size and weight.

The only con some people might find with this catalogue is the bulk of the written text is in Korean (understandably) and requires the use of a translator. I own an electronic pocket translator (SHARP PW-5300) that I rely on for this task.

For those who do not own a copy of this catalogue, but are interested in learning more about the stamps that South Korea has issued over the years...don't fret. The Korea Stamp Society (KSS) has indexed all of the issues by year and have included detailed information for each stamp! You can visit the KSS page here. If you are a collector of Korean stamps and are not yet a member please consider becoming one.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Relics from the Tomb of King Munyong (1972)

Today's post features two stamps issued in 1972 depicting relics excavated from the tomb of King Munyong. On the left is a gold ornament from the King's crown and on the right are a pair of gold earings. I don't recall exactly when I added these two stamps to my collection; however, I do know that they were included in a larger lot that I purchased from an auction site. The specifics surrounding this issue are:

  • Date of Issue: 10 May 1972
  • Scott Catalogue #: 822 (stamp on left); 821 (stamp on right)
  • Korea Postage stamp Catalogue (KPC) #: C534 (stamp on left); C535 (stamp on right) 
  • Quantity Produced: 1,000,000 each

Below is the press release provided by the South Korean Ministry of Communication at the time of this stamp issue. This information was made available by the Korea Stamp Society on its website.

The Ministry of Communications is issuing two special postage stamps featuring two prominent articles selected from 2,500 items of relics unearthed virtually intact from the tomb of King Munyong of Paekche, who reigned from 501 to 523.
These priceless historical relics were discovered in July 1971 during the excavation of the royal tomb situated at Keumsong-dong (Songsan-ri), Kongju, Chungchong Namdo. Kongju, which was the capital of the Paekche Kingdom for 63 years beginning 475, is the seat of six ancient tombs of Paekche, which have been officially designated together as the National Historical Remains No. 13.
The discovery that brought to light the brilliance of the old Korean culture of nearly 1,500 years ago marked the most remarkable archaeological gain since the liberation in 1945. As such, it has aroused unusual interest among scholars as well as the general public at home and abroad. 
1. Gold Crown Ornament These gold ornament of a crown by King Munyong are elaborately designed in the shape of flowers and leaves, measuring 14,2cm in diameter and 29cm in height. 
2. A Pair of Gold Earrings Also worn by King Munyong, each of these earrings has two pendants one made up of gourd-shaped ornaments and comma-shaped jades, and the other decorated with a heart-shaped gold plate.  

As a child I always dreamed of growing up to be an archaeologist or a sort of treasure hunter in the likes of an Indiana Jones. While I have grown up to be neither, I do have an interest and appreciation for those who spend their time and resources uncovering artifacts from the past. Were it not for the work of archaeologists and others we would not be able to understand and appreciate the rich history of different cultures. I personally do not find much beauty in this particular stamp set; however, I am fascinated by the topic of the stamps and can imagine how exciting it must have been to unearth these priceless treasures! 

Photo of the ornament recovered from King Munyong's Tomb

Photo of the earrings recovered from King Munyong's Tomb

The Tomb of King Munyong was nominated in 1994 for inclusion as a World Heritage Site; however, to date it appears it has not made the list. Below are a couple pictures of the tomb.

Front entrance of King Munyong's Tomb

Inside view of King Munyong's Tomb

I had a lot of fun pulling these stamps out of my stock book this morning and reading up on King Munyong's Tomb. Fun stuff. Until next time...