The publication by KSS member Yi Yong Suk of an article about North Korean stamp sheets elicited an answer by another KSS member, Chen Yi-Fu. This led to the following exchange of information between these two members about the question of domestic printings versus international (collector’s) printings.
The question by Yong Suk was:
Recently Chen Yi-Fu mentioned that printing “stamps for domestic use” started from the late 1970s and that early domestic versions can be distinguished easily from the international version because of the quality of the paper used. In my collection of 1989 13th World Youth Festival 30 Jon stamps, one stamp comes with brown paper and other comes with higher quality paper. I always thought that one was real and the other was fake. Please check the image and let me know what you think?
To which Yi-Fu answered:
4 thoughts on “Domestic printing versus international printing of DPRK stamps (I)”
I am about to purchase a 1993 DPRK unmounted mint miniature sheet commemorating the 100th birth anniversary of Chairman Mao, but am rather curious as this sheet of stamps come imperf. Do they typically have 2 varieties of these miniature sheets coz I have another monkey sheet with no perforations?
For the question of James Chi, YES, DPRK usually issued limited quantities ( usually less than 1000) of imperforated stamps and souvenir sheets, together with perforated ones. The selling prices of imperf. are double of perf. But perf. and imperf., both are what we mentioned “international printing” here. They are philatelic products mainly to sell to international tourists/collectors. However, I myself and most foreign visitors might have no chance to walk into local post office to take a real look at their stocks, so I cannot guarantee these “international printings” stamps are 100% unavailable in local post. But they are still valid for postage usage inside of DPRK.
You have discovered a very fascinating aspect of the stamps of the DPRK. Yes, there were, for some time, stamps printed on different papers, as those you show for use on international mail, and on domestic mail. This was also true of the DPRK currency. There they had three classes.
This is not unique with coinage/paper currency as the Chinese had tourist currency we had to use when I visited that country in the late 1970s and early 1980s. But they never extended that policy to postage stamps.
I will stop there as I can go on about the policies for many pages!
Good luck finding more examples on both papers!
DPRK also had tourist currency. At the end of the year 2000, there were major shifts in monetary policy in DPRK. Prior to the change, all foreign guests were to use exchange money (외화와 바꾼돈). The exchanged money is not the actual currency and it is only allowed to be used by a foreigner. In 2001, they stop using exchanged money and allowed guest to use foreign currency (accepted currencies are; USD, Euro, Japanese Yen, Chinese Renminbi, and Russian Ruble). In major hotels and shopping centers, all products and services were marked and paid with USD or Euro.
Here are two examples (10 jeon and 1 jeon):