Ruminations on Korean Municipals

Revenue stamps

If I were going to write an article on Korean municipals (see Ross article in 50(2), pp. 10-12), I would probably entitle it, “Municipals–The Mt. Everest of Korean Philately.” Then I would probably make the dire prediction that there will never be a catalogue that is complete in this field. I would be willing to say this because the municipal field of stamps is so vast. 

If all of the major cities have their own municipals, then how big or taxing does a city have to be before it can have its own municipal stamps? Do the provinces have their own stamps? Do the myungs, the dongs, and the ups have their own stamps? What about older or discontinued issues? Are there any samples of the issues? How many were printed? How near or far away was the printer of the stamps? What kind of printing was done? How many variations in paper are there? Are they perforated or hyphenated? For what type of business were the stamps used? When the municipals were cancelled, what information was in the cancelling strike?

I can’t be sure of the name or the spelling, but was it Matt Tarkington who wrote on Korean municipals several years ago and with illustrations? I thought then it was an awfully good start but that it made only a small dent in a very large field. I very badly wanted information on municipals while I was there in Korea, but the need for much travel as well as the need to write many letters and sending checks or money orders in small amounts was too much of a challenge for me.

It is amazing to me that more Koreans themselves have not jumped on the wagon of collecting municipals. It seems like a gold mine to me if someone would start supplying municipals to collectors in the States.

I hope you have been able to get as much information as possible from some of your Korean students about the municipals you have, and, if any had any background in philately, they might have been of tremendous help. Even some of their parents might have been able to send sets to you and be rewarded for their efforts.

I’ll be tremendously interested to see what you have collected when that comes out, and I hope that, when new information comes out, it can always be centralized and available in one place or source.

What is the best term for the seals that show a tax has been paid but are non-denominational. The customs department had them in four different colors, and then there were the seals that went with hard and soft drinks, as well as seals for medicines and cigarettes, etc. Then there was the group that had a picture of the item in the right half of the stamp and Hangul writing in the left half. These came in different colors, and I sure wanted samples of the different ones. Pictures that I have seen in the right half of the stamp/seal have been electric fan, grand piano, guitar, and fluorescent light bulbs, and I wondered how far the list went. What an unexplored field!!! Then there were the denominational tax stamps that were used on passports. Have one of those on a whole passport.

Lyman Hale
Syracuse, NY

[Ed. response:]
Perhaps the article you are thinking of was written by our own William Collyer some time ago in The American Revenuer. And then there was the reprint published in the last issue from a later issue of TAR.

In the U.S.A. and Canada, the non-denominated stamps used to show that a tax has been paid are, I believe, referred to as “Tax Paid” stamps.
Actually, about three years ago, with the help of a large group of Korean students, we wrote to every city and province in Korea, including dongs and ups (we were able to get a listing of these from the Central Revenue Office). These were all written in Korean, but we heard back from just a few. Those who did answer indicated that they were all using meters now instead of stamps. Two did send stamps from their archives, but there wasn’t much.

I don’t know how much credibility to give to this conclusion, as the Federal government in many of its divisions and departments is still using stamps. But your questions are excellent, and for someone with the time (and the language – and, I suspect, the financial resources), this could prove to be a wonderful detective story!

(Originally from KP August 2005, Vol. 50, No. 3)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.