Receipt for unpaid or insufficiently paid mail

North Korea Other stamps

The front cover of Kiku Shimbun 169 (August 2016) features a rare item of Japanese postal history from North Korea. Following the end of WWII and the Japanese Surrender, USA Forces moved into Seoul, Korea, whilst Soviet Forces move from Manchuria in the northern parts of Korea, both of these subjects and the eventual division of Korea at the 38th Parallel are discussed in this issue of Kiku Shimbun. 

Front cover of Kiku Shimbun 169 (August 2016).

In North Korea the Soviets took control of the postal system, then mainly run by Japanese and Korean workers, Korea prior to the war-end was a territory of Japan and therefore used the stamps of Japan for all mail, thus at the war end only the existing stocks of Japanese stamps were available and had to be used sparingly. Japanese postcards also existed but again with new postal rates the added stamps to meet the rate were not available. Hand-stamps were produced to indicate that the postage or additional postage had been paid, in order to keep a record of the usage of the hand-stamps and the amounts of postage collected a ‘Receipt Form for Unpaid or Insufficiently Paid Mail’ was filled on a daily basis and the total amount collected was affixed to this form but mainly in high value stamps. Covers and Postcards with actual Showa stamps affixed to pay the postage are very rare and even the receipt forms, although produced on a daily basis; few of these items exist today. The introduction of Soviet produced North Korean stamps did not occur until May 1946.

The Receipt form shown on the front page is such an item, this being from the main Post Office at Pyeong-yang, and is franked with 5 x 1 yen, 1 x 50 sen, 1 x 30 sen, 1 x 4 sen, all being from the First Showa series of definitive stamps, showing a daily income of just 5 yen 84 sen at this busy post office. The form is now an item in my Showa collection (ex- Dr. Maeda), being the only item I have representing North Korea.

With great difficulty, Nicholas Pertwee, took on the task of trying to read the name chops of the postal workers that are on the form but defaced by red ink ‘X’ crosses, but with a reasonable degree of success at least in order to determine the nationalities of the postal clerks at Pyeong-yang post office, this proved that 65% where Japanese, 35% Korean, 1% Chinese. This Receipt is a very interesting item of postal history of North Korea.

Kiku Shimbun and the British Society for Japanese Philately (BSJP)
This article was reprinted with permission from the editor of the Kiku Shimbun. The Kiku Shimbun is the magazine of the British Society for Japanese Philately (BSJP). For more information please see the website of the BSJP.

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