Foreign mail postmarks of Pusan (1945-55)


Over the years many philatelists have written for the KSS magazine Korean Philately. In pre-internet days it was difficult to later find such information again. Here is an example of a short specialized article written by Joseph Comroe for the May 1971 edition of KP about the foreign mail postmarks used by the Busan/부산 (then usually romanized as “Pusan”) post office during 1945-1955.

The need for a more comprehensive knowledge of Republic of Korea cancellations and postmarks is becoming more essential along with the study of individual stamps and their usages. Now that South Korea has had 25 years of independence, postal history should be recorded before time erases important vestiges of philatelic importance. 

Empire Korea up to 1905 and on through Japanese occupation has been fairly documented by such writers as Spaulding, Brady, Fisher and Nishini to name a few. (See “Japanese Postmarks Used in Korea, by Brady, Congress Book, 1965 pgs. 147-152).

Korea has been a member of the UPU since 1900, and compliance with its regulations were maintained through the various changes in government, exigencies of invasion and the heavy influx of United Nations personnel and materials. This study will attempt to pinpoint the identification, usage, and postal history of FOREIGN MAIL CANCELLATIONS used in the city of Pusan from 1945 through 1955. All port cities had foreign mail facilities and each city had special foreign mail postmarks. This lends itself to the study of individual cities. A similar study such as this one is planned for Seoul and Inchon. The reader may be reminded that this is a small section of the complete study of post war Korean cancellations. The hope is that one day all these studies may be collated into a comprehensive whole.

The Roman Letter, English numeral, multiple-comb cancellation mark was devised and used by the Japanese post offices in Korea from 1900. In fact, multiple-comb cancellations are found on mail emanating from China, Manchuria, Port Arthur, and Japan proper. Therefore it may be assumed that due to prior usage and familiarity this type Foreign Mail cancellation was continued with certain modifications after liberation.

“Major” type divisions were arbitrarily set by counting the number of “bars” in the comb. This resulted in establishing four principal classifications: 4 bar, 7 bar, 8 bar, and 9 bar.

The rest of this article is for KSS members only. Please login.
New information needed!
If any KSS member has more information, please contact us. This article was originally published in KP Vol. XX No. 2 (May 1971). A modern update to this article would be a great addition to the information published in KP since 1951!

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