We received a message from one of our readers, Peter, who has two questions. One is on the KoreaPost international stamp sales website and the inability to actually order something through that website, a point raised quite often by both KSS members and visitors of the KSS website. The other question is on North Korean modern day stamp issue politics: are these stamps “for real” (as in: meant for actual postal use within the DPRK?) or not?
Here are the two questions:
I am a philatelist and have two questions about Korean philately:
1. Has anyone had success using Korea Post’s (South Korea’s) online stamp shop (koreastamp.go.kr)? The website’s functionality and accessibility seems to be very sporadic. Using the English version as I don’t speak Korean, I am often unable to add items to the shopping cart, and even when I can, I am unable to checkout because it won’t allow me to scroll down after I add a certain number of items to the cart. I contacted Korea Post’s philatelic department via e-mail but they are unable to be of any help. They sent a user guide for their site which is for Internet Explorer, an outdated browser that I don’t have. Is there any other way to order from Korea Post from abroad, such as by e-mail with credit card?
2. About modern and recent issues of DPRK, are they really considered and used as postage stamps within the country or are they just produced for sales to foreign collectors by the Korea Stamp Corporation, much like the wallpaper that stamp agents like IGPC produce for mostly African, Caribbean, and some South Pacific countries? Also, how do the prices DPRK stamp emissions sold by the Korea Stamp Corporation compare to actual face value? (I believe they are sold in Euros). The issues seem excessive and aimed at collectors as most issues have imperforated varieties, booklets, postal stationery, etc. Basically, I’m wondering if most DPRK issues after the early ones are worth collecting from a value perspective.
Thank you for your help.
Please leave your ideas and answers in the comment section below.
11 thoughts on “Reader’s Question: How to order from KoreaPost and what about all these new DPRK stamps?”
1. KSC sell their newly issued DPRK stamps by face values. The exchange rate is 100won = 1USD. So one 100won stamp is sold by 1USD. And imperf stamps are sold by double price. (DPRK adjusted their exchange rate to around 100won = 0.9USD in recent days)
2. These newly issued stamps are valid within DPRK too.
3. Some of these stamps are available in stamp shops of Pyongyang and Kaesong, or maybe hotel postcard booths.
4. However, these stamps are “probably” not available in local post offices. Since foreign tourists have no chance to visit local post offices, the actual situation is not exactly clear.
5. The 100:1 exchange rate is “official”, but not “real” exchange rate. The real exchange rate is around 8000:1.
I believe certain issues of DPRK stamps of “political” theme may be available to the public at Post Offices there. I have seen Registered Mail FDC’s of DPRK new issue stamps sent by a tourist to a address outside of DPRK. A unusual scenario indeed but somehow does occur.
With regards to how to buy South Korean stamps: first a more general answer to how to order from KoreaPost before answering your particular question.
If you go to the KoreaPost website at https://stamp.epost.go.kr/ you will find a link to the English language website of the Korean Philatelic Center (KPC) as well. This link is http://koreastamp.go.kr/. The English website has a “stamp shop”, see the frontpage of the website, to the left:
Now for your question. We have been told by several KSS members in the last few years that in practice the only way to be able to properly order is by using a Microsoft browser. KoreaPost answered you by stating you should use MS Internet Explorer (IE), which indeed works, but like you said, IE is no longer maintained by MS. We have had no experience with it yet, but it seems logical to assume MS Edge should work as well, it is the successor to IE. Many (most?) Korean language websites set up by Korean government departments have this particular problem of requiring MS IE. This has to do with how the website has been set up technically and is particularly related to the use of certain MS IE based plugins. These plugins exclude the use of Chrome etc.
According to those same members, before 2020 service was often quite fast. However, with the current covid-19 related troubles mail routes are often much slower, so a bit of patience might be required.
Hi Ivo, Microsoft Edge does not work either. You can use it to see the stamps, select them, but when you try to go to the cart, it doesn’t show anything. As you know, we have had discussions about the poor service of KoreaPost for serveral years. It doesn’t seem they are interested in selling to individual stamps collectors outside of South Korea. Robert
I am having the same problem as Peter. I have tried several times to order stamps from the Korea Post stamp shop site, but I always fail at the same point. I tried to order stamps from the stamp shop, but everytime after I choose the stamp and enter the Billing Address/Ship to Address, and when I push the “Checkout” button, the transaction does not proceed…nothing happens.
I have contacted Korea Post several times about this problem, but have not found an effective solution.
Yes, I also uncessfully tried to order stamps from Korea without being able too. Tough luck…..
Concerning DPRK issues, it is another story. DPRK issues some very interesting and nice stamps regularly. They have got an adress in Pyong-Yang as well as a Mail adress which is more or less public. I sent messages to both adresses without ever receiving an answer. On my point of vue, the Postal system in the DPRK does not exist anymore. Stamps are a way of bringing in hard currency eventhow if these stamps are recognized by the UPU. No North-Korean can send mail abroad if it is not government related issues and the only place you can send mail from is the Hotel Koryo in Pyong-Yang which is out of reach to the common user. Off course, you will be paying your stamps in Euro (they accept even coins !). Apparently, the North Korean stamps transit through Russia before being sent all over the world. There is a seller on Delcampe.net who has got an important stock of DPRK recent issues and at reasonnable prices who is in Russia. Another point, watch out for Cinderellas but on Delcampe you won’t be running into them as they have got a very strong anti-Cinderella policy.
Hi, Peter, the last sentence in your questions worries me most: “are worth collecting from a value perspective”, NO normally it doesn’t! We collect stamps because it’s the most rewarded hobby: it gives you knowledge, inspires you gives you a peace of mind. Modern DPRK stamps are made as a tool for distributing Propaganda towards the rest of the World and earn some capitalist money on the side (but aren’t all Postal administrations doing the same these days?) So, just collect and enjoy all the historical facts you will learn in doing so. Have fun, W
As I was reading the comments from several members, I noted that some reported that the site would work if you used Microsoft Internet Explorer. While Microsoft urges users to switch to Microsoft Edge as an Internet browser, Internet Explorer is still operational as a software program on Windows systems. However, Microsoft has formally announced that Internet Explorer will be retired on 15 June 2022. Old websites made use of certain features in IE for operations and those features are gone in the new generation of browsers. That new generation includes, but is not limited to, Firefox, Chrome, Edge, Opera, and others. The only browser that supports Java is Internet Explorer. That is a key factor. Old sites designed for use in IE may not work with the new programs and will have to be redone (recreated) by 15 June 2022. Such is the price of browser security. Microsoft does indicate that is is possible to set Edge for an Internet Explorer mode of operation for a specific site. Do a search on the Microsoft site for a very technical explanation of how that can be done.
Oh! If you continue to temporarily use Internet Explorer, be sure to load the latest version of Java on your system – but go to the Java site (www.java.com) using Internet Explorer. If you try to do it with another browser, it will not install.
If you are using Microsoft Internet Explorer on the site in question and you have Java loaded, the problem may be your firewall. Although Windows has a built-in firewall, commercial anti–viral software packages often include a firewall feature. Designed to protect your system from intruders, there are times when that firewall can block something you actually need. One that I know of will block java scripts (code developed incorporating java software) and what you will see on the screen in that position on the page is …. nothing. Such scripts were commonly used during the period of time when older sites were created. The proper way to address such a problem is to create an exemption for the site in your firewall settings.
There have been no further postings to this running exchange, but I found something in Microsoft Edge that I had not previously seen. First, the disclaimer…. I am running Edge version 101.0.1210.39. (and I am using a PC, not a laptop or tablet, which might affect the layout you see)
If you still cannot get the site to run, I suggest you try this method to access it, given that Microsoft Internet Explorer will no longer work from 15 June. Open Edge and type in the website address (the URL), then hit Enter. Edge should bring it up. Now that it is on your screen…. next, on the upper right of the Edge display, you should see three dots ( … ). If you will click on the area of the dots, you will find a list of items appears for the web page as your Edge browser is handling it. At the bottom of the list of items (the fifth entry from the bottom on my screen), you will see the option of “Reload in Internet Explorer mode”. Click that and the Edge page reloads but operates as if it was there in Internet Explorer.
I recently had to do this for another site and was startled at the access suddenly granted. – and it worked again as if Internet Explorer was the browser being used.
Given my experience with the other site, if it does not perform correctly, my guess is that it is caused by your computer’s firewall.
Hi William, that’s a good tip! For the people who don’t have the “Reload in Internet Explorer mode” option in that menu, you first have to go to the settings to add that option. See here for an example on how to do this: https://www.howtogeek.com/791890/how-to-use-internet-explorer-mode-in-edge/
I tried the “Reload in Internet Explorer mode” and it does make quite a difference. Even after all that however the website still isn’t exactly intuitive to use, but I did manage to create an order. (I didn’t follow through because I didn’t actually want to buy the stamps, so no idea what would have happened next.)
Thanks again, it seems this could be the solution to one of the most commonly asked questions: how can I order stamps from KoreaPost?