A career choice brought me and my Korean stamp collection that I started 30 years ago, back to the ROK. Korea certainly has changed in numerous positive and interesting ways but much like the US, the pastime of stamp collecting seems to have lost some of its appeal to technology.
I brought my Korean collection back in order to complete it. It’s nothing special only covering a couple decades of issue. But its mine, I’ve enjoyed it and will pass it down to one of my children or grandchildren in the hopes they enjoy and learn from it. Thirty years ago I could usually find a stamp store in almost any Korean city. Now it seems bakeries, convenience stores, every fast food franchise known to man, telecom giants etc… have taken over the landscape. The “Mom and Pops” are gone and as I discovered, so are the stamp dealers.
At a loss, I looked to the Web and asked the good folks at the Korea Stamp Society to point in the direction of a stamp dealer in Chungcheongbuk-Do. They instead recommended I travel up to Seoul and visit Namdaemun Market, and specifically to the Heohyeon Underground Shopping Center where they said I would find anything and everything related to Korean philately.
It took several months before I was able to make the trek but when I did…. WoW!!! The KSS was spot on!!! Seemed to me like every stamp dealer in Korea must have relocated to Namdaemun. I found many dealers selling all types of Korean and foreign stamps and other philatelic items, coins, paper money, supplies etc… Though I’ve never been to Nassua St, I’m pretty sure this was Korea’s version of it. Since my time was limited and I was accompanied by my wife, I thought it best to do an initial recon for what will be future visits.
Some recommendations and observations should you go:
I admit I am geographically challenged. IMO the Heohyeon Underground Shopping Center is most easily accessible through the Seoul Central Post Office directly across the street from the Shinsegae Department Store Main Store. Enter the main post office doors, take the elevator to the first basement level where on the right you’ll find the Korea Postage and Stamp Museum and to the left you’ll find an entrance to the Heohyeon Underground.
The Korea Postage and Stamps Museum was certainly worth the visit.
I made a couple purchases using a US credit card with no issues.
This is Korea and I observed most of the dealers were “older”. Don’t expect fluent English speakers and you won’t be disappointed.
The Heohyeon Underground Shopping Center also contains a few antique dealers, phonograph music album dealers, camera, clothing and shoe stores etc… probably others, but my interest was solely stamps.
Much thanks for the advice KSS. I will definitely be back and now might even have to expand that collection I brought with me.