Recognizing DPRK Reprints Part I: 1955 to 1957

North Korea

Internet is where most people buy and sell stamps today. In the months leading up to the February 2019 US – DPRK summit in Hanoi, there were massive unloads of North Korean stamps on the internet. This presented a good entry point for beginning collectors like myself to acquire some early North Korean stamps. However, like many other beginners, it was very hard to distinguish the reprints from the originals. So, I started to collect data on this subject which I then compiled for other collectors to help make stamp purchases easier.

From 1955 to 1957, North Korea produced legal imitation “reprints” of stamps issued originally between 1946 and 1956 to serve both postal needs and overseas sales. There are 55 reprints and these are postally valid stamps. Scott’s #100 “Ryongwang Pavilion and Taedong Gate” is the last known reprint. Scott’s catalogue lists many different ways to identify reprints and originals. The catalogue notes that differences in size, color, gum, paper and specific details can be used to determine whether a stamp is a reprint or an original.

Color is a good way to differentiate a reprint from the original when reprints are printed in a totally different color. A good example is Scott’s #1 “Rose of Sharon”. The best way to identify a reprint is to look at several different characteristics of a reprint compared to the original. Most of the reprints have different characteristics. At first glance, both stamps might look the same. However, when you look closely, there are subtle differences between the reprint and the original. Not all reprints have notable differences from the originals. The most accurate way to identify is the measurement and type of paper used but that is very difficult to tell by looking at a picture from the internet.

Note: Some of the pictures are from my recently purchased collection, others from eBay and Stamp Circuit.

In the images below the reprints are to the left, the originals to the right.

Scott’s 1 Rose of Sharon

Reprints are in yellow green. The name of the country is 조선 in the reprint and 죠션 in the original.

Scott’s 4 Diamond Mountain

Reprint: Center top of the rock is very pointy. Original: Flat.

Scott’s A5 Peasant

Reprint: Finely printed in light blue. Original: Dark blue.

Scott’s 14 North Korean Flag

Reprint: Center 3 story building. Original: 2 story build with chimney.

Scott’s 11 Work and Factory

Reprint: Man holding the hammer on the middle of the handle, 2 shaded windows. Original: Man holding the hammer on the end of hammer handle, 1 shaded window.

Scott’s 16 North Korea Flag

Reprint: Top and bottom panels are red with center being blue. Original: Top and bottom panels are blue with center being red.

Scott’s 17 Kim Il Sung University, Pyongyang

Reprint: Straight lines, clear image of a building. Original: remnants of a building.

Scott’s 22 Order of the National Flag

Reprint: Circle surrounding center start is solid line. Original: Circle surrounding center stare is doted, not a solid line.

Scott’s 26 Flags Liberation Monument

Reprint: top inscription with 3 short lines on either side, 4 ray beam on left side of monument, no dots on right side of spire. Original: top inscription with 2 short lines on either side, 3 ray beam on left side of monument, dots on right side of spire.

Scott’s 28 Flags, Soldier

Reprint: The bush on the right bottom has unshaded line going up left to right. Original: no unshaded line.

Scott’s 29 Peasant and Worker

Reprint: 2 men. Original: man and a woman, woman’s hair is clearly visible.

Scott’s 30 & 32 Tractor

Reprint: there are 3 small, same size circles underneath the center of top inscription. Original: the circles are not same size.

Scott’s 36 Soviet and North Korean Flags

Reprint: Unrecognizable feature. Original: Tailgate of a trailer or door of some sort.

Scott’s # 38 Hero Kim Ki U

Reprint: No line of shading between the characters in the top inscription. Original: Line of shading between the characters in the top inscription.

Scott’s 40 N. Korea, Chinese & Russian Soldiers

Reprint: The Korean word won is written in 4 parts. Center person’s right hand is right to the word 념 and not touching. Original: Won is written in 3 parts. Center person’s right hand is above word 념 and touching.

Scott’s #49 Dove, Flag & Globe

Reprint: 3 visible islands (continent and 2 islands). beneath the dove. The word 우표 slightly lower than the rest of the writing. Original: 4 visible islands (continent and 3 island) beneath the dove. 20 원 slightly lower than the rest of the writing.

Scott’s #52 Enforcement of Labor Law, 6th Anniversary

Reprint: Top inscription, number 6 extend below the line and top tip of ㄴ on 년 is clearly visible. Original: 6 is in line with the inscription and ㄴ on 년 looks more like straight line.

Scott’s #55 Flags & Monument

Reprint: 5 upper light beams touches top inscription. Original: 1 center upper light beam touches the inscription.

Scott’s #56 Soldier & Monument

Reprint: Right upper corner, above soldier’s left shoulder is shaded solid. Original: Lightly shaded.

Scott’s 61

Reprint: Dove wing consist of many small feathers. Original: 3 large feathers.

Scott’s 64 Soldier

Reprint: Shaded above and beneath the barrel of the riffle solid. Original: Shaded with clear lines.

Scott’s 69 8th Anniversary of Liberation from Japan

Reprint: left side of the monument is shaded and windows are fully drawn and shaded. Original: monument is not shaded, and windows are partially drawn and half shaded.

Scott’s 78 National Congress of Young Activists

Reprint: worker’s hand is on the right side of the tassel of the flag. Original: worker’s hand is beneath the tassel of the flag.

Scott’s 98 People’s Army, 8th Anniversary

Reprint: soldier’s right ear is shaded and it is unrecognizable. Original: soldier’s right ear is clearly shown.

Scott’s 100 1956 Ryongwang Pavilion and Teadong Gate Pyongyang

Reprint: The tail of the central left element ㅜ in the “원” extend beyond ㄴ shape. Original: element ㅜ in the “원” does not extend beyond ㄴ shape.

9 thoughts on “Recognizing DPRK Reprints Part I: 1955 to 1957

  1. Correction.
    Scott’s 78 National Congress of Young Activists
    Reprint: worker’s hand is right side of the tassel of the flag.
    Original: worker’s hand is beneath the tassel of the flag.

  2. Fascinating to see official reprints being done. Is it possible for one of the members to scan the relevant pages in from the Scott catalogue mentioned for me as I don’t have any catalogues and reference books on Korean stamps. I see this as a nice project to make a exhibition display out.

  3. Hi Alex,
    Scott’s Catalog, Korean Stamp Catalog, or this article may not be 100% correct. The article was put together with available information from the catalogs and internet. I’ve found many flaws on Scott’s and Korean Stamp Catalog.

  4. Hi Yong and Ivo,
    Thank you for the heads up for accuracy of information and the relevant pages. I’m sure this will be an interesting study for years to come. I will be happily use these pages in a few weeks time as I will be spending 4 days at a stampshow in Sydney :). Hopefully in the future we can make a special section for reprints and forgeries.

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