Story of the Rarest Korean Christmas Seal and the Japanese Military Confiscation before WWII in 1940


The rarest Korean Christmas seal is the “unissued” Children and Snowy Mountains of 1940. The brief story how it became rare is told by Stephen Hasegawa in the following article that is in his 2006 catalogue of “Dr. Sherwood Hall’s Christmas and New Year Seals of Korea”. As noted in the article, in 2006, only 46 seals were known to exist. The catalogue value in 2006 was US$5000 for a single copy. 

A very rare strip of 2 of the unissued Christmas seals. (Robert Finder collection.)

At the time, due to military regulations, no images of structures over 20 meters in Korea where allowed by the Japanese to be published. This was most likely due to the war and information that might be shown for potential military actions. If any of our readers know more about these regulations, it would be good information to share. Because of the mountains shown in the original seals of 1940, the Japanese military confiscated most of these seals.

The unissued and issued versions of the Christmas seal. (Robert Finder collection.)

Following the article, are illustrations of the “unissued” 1940 seal without the gate and the “issued” 1940 seal that was approved by the Japanese military. Please note that the article and illustrations below are copyrighted and published with the permission of Mr. Hasegawa.

Text from the Hasegawa catalogue explaining what happened to the original design.
Hasegawa listing of both versions of the Christmas seal.

4 thoughts on “Story of the Rarest Korean Christmas Seal and the Japanese Military Confiscation before WWII in 1940

  1. Hello,
    I can across this article while I was checking out some of my wife’s family history. Her grandfather was a missionary in Chosen (Japanese occupied North Korea). Among the things we have from this time period is set of letters from Chosen to various family members. On the back of two of these letters (going to India, and opened by British Censors) were the “unissued” seals depicted above. These letters are from 1940. I would be happy to send you photos of them.


  2. Hello- I inherited a small collection of Christmas Seals including 4 issues from Korea. One of the 4 looks to me like the “unissued” version with no gate and the date 1940-1941 in the lower left corner. It is a single copy, not tied to a cover. I can send a picture if you want.

    1. Hi Ken, that is excellent. Yes, please send an image of seal and I can confirm if it the unissued seal. Thanks, Bob

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