North Korea: Problems prepaying the post-armistice airmail rates, 1953-1956

North Korea

At some date after the signing of the Armistice on 27 July 1953, for reasons known only to the North Korean postal administration, a decision was made to introduce an airmail fee of 75 won. That this was likely due to the huge influx of members of the two Neutral Nations Commissions (NNRC and NNSC) appointed to oversee the application of the terms of the peace settlement and the repatriation of POWs, who wanted to communicate quickly with their home countries of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Sweden and Switzerland is beyond doubt. The numbers of people wishing to use this service grew even more over the ensuing months as technical and medical specialists from Eastern Europe and elsewhere, arrived to assist in reconstructing infrastructure destroyed during the War.

What is not clear is why the specific rate was chosen when it required the use of a 5 won stamp, when North Korea did not have a stamp of that denomination and had never previously issued one. The effects of this new rate provide an interesting philatelic story that was to cover a three-year period of provisionals and flexible approaches to solving the 5 won ‘problem’.

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Anthony Bard
I collect North and South Korean Postal History from 1945, focusing on the Korean War and the countries involved in the conflict and post-Armistice commissions. I live in London.

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