Domestic Printing Versus International Printing Of DPRK Stamps (II)

North Korea

Recently KSS members Yi Yong Suk and Chen Yi-Fu showed the difference between domestic printings versus international (collector’s) printings by showing Scott No. 2824 & 2824a side by side. But then Yi-Fu also said something about more modern domestic printings. 

Yi-Fu’s remark in that article was:

“The last recorded domestic printing number in the Scott catalogue is No. 2897a from 1990, but in reality domestic printings exist until today. During the 1980s, 2 types of paper were used (because at that time NK was poor, good paper was reserved for international printings), but since 1991 both versions of the stamps use the same type of paper and it is difficult to distinguish them from each other.”

It turns out however there is more to this story, in fact much more:

“The domestic and international versions of DPRK stamps issued after 1991 are indistinguishable from the front because the paper was the same. Trying to distinguish them amongst any used stamps or covers is meaningless. You can only tell the difference by looking at mint stamps or sheet formats.”

In order to proof this, he sent an example of a domestic printing created after 1990.

“From the front both stamps look almost the same, but from the back you can tell the differences. This kind of stamp is NOT recorded in the Scott catalogue, the last recorded number is Sc#2897a. However, after that stamp, the practice of domestic printing actually continued.

Fig 1: Sc#3021 to the right, unlisted domestic printing to the left.
Fig 2: Difficult to see, but the international version is with gum while the domestic version comes without gum.

This stamp is Sc#3021, this set has a total of 5 stamps (Scott 3021-3025), but only this stamp had a domestic print run. This was because its face value, 10ch, was a commonly used regular postage value.

Even more remarkable: this stamp is a rare example of a DPRK stamp with a special (non-political) theme, cats, which usually doesn’t have a domestic printing.

Fig 3: Front of domestic and international printings of complete sheets of the same stamps.

Also the sheet formats are different. The KSC only lists the international versions and doesn’t have any information or record on domestic versions. However, a useful hint is still available from the KSC which is the sheet format. Most stamps issued after 1991 were printed in small sheets; for example, the cat stamp shown here came from a sheet of 3×6. A larger sheet not recorded in the KSC means it is a domestic printing.”

Fig 4: Back of domestic and international printings of complete sheets. The differences are visible this way, but how could you see these differences when postally used…?

Yi-Fu also sent some other examples. Please see the photos below for examples of domestic vs international printings of the same stamps.

Fig 5: More examples from Yi-Fu’s collection of domestic and international printings of the same stamps.

Some of the examples shown here are listed in the Scott catalogue (and several stamp catalogues?), but not all.


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