Postage stamps and postal history of Korea

This is a survey of the postage stamps and postal history of Korea.

Long a closed kingdom, Korea began to open up in the second half of the 19th century; letters bearing Chinese and Japanese stamps are known from 1877.

Korea issued its own first stamps on 18 November 1884. While five values were printed - 5, 10, 25, 50, and 100 mon, only the 5m and 10m values were issued, and even these saw little use, as the post office was burned down during a revolt in December 1884.

The next series of stamps did not appear until 1895, and consisted of four values: 5, 10, 25, and 50 poon, all of the same design featuring a yin yang symbol. They were overprinted "Tae Han" in 1897, and surcharged to 1 poon in 1900.

A currency change in 1900, to rin, cheun, and weun, necessitated new stamps, and accordingly a series of 13 was issued, with values ranging from 2 rin to 2 weun. While all the designs have a common theme of the yin yang symbol, the frames are different for each value, and the three highest values are printed in two colors each. In 1902 five of these were surcharged using black handstamps.

Korea issued its first commemorative stamp on 18 October 1902, marking the 40th anniversary of the reign of Emperor Gojong. The orange stamp depicted the emperor's crown.

The last stamps of the Empire were another series of 13 issued in 1903, with all stamps of a common depicting a falcon.

In 1905, Japan assumed administrative control of Korea, and subsequently all mail used Japanese stamps.This state of affairs continued until early 1946. On 1 February 1946, the US military administration in south Korea overprinted Japanese stamps, supplanting them on 1 May with designs commemorating liberation from Japan. In the north, the Soviet occupation forces issued stamps from 12 March 1946.

For the modern Korean states of South Korea and North Korea, see postage stamps and postal history of South Korea, and postage stamps and postal history of North Korea.

References

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* Scott catalogue


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