This area of our catalogue focuses on stamps from what is usually called "Korea" but is more properly called South Korea. South Korea came into existence after World War II. Just as happened to several countries in Eastern Europe, Korea was partitioned. Korea had been conquered by Imperial Japan in 1910. In the north, Korean nationals waged a guerilla war to harrass the occupying Japanese forces, with the support of the U.S.S.R. and to a lesser extent by the Chinese Communists. The American forces in the Pacific had no desire to have a communist country so close to occupied Japan. They moved into the southern portion of Korea to help "stabilize" the country after it became independent in 1945. The United Nations agreed to a division of Korea into two parts along the 38th parallel. In 1950, the north Korean army crossed the demarcation line and invaded South Korea, aided by large numbers of Chinese forces. They were eventually pushed back and the ceasefire line re-established in 1953. There continues to be a large American forces presence in South Korea.
Korean stamps often appear in bag lots of Chinese and/or Japanese stamps. The confusion is understandable. Many of the written characters used in Japan are taken directly from Chinese characters. To the casual observer Korean characters look somewhat like Chinese or Japanese characters. However there are a few things to look for which help to separate stamps from the three countries.
- Many stamps issued by Japan have the stylized chrysthanemum, often centred at the top.
- The currency used in Japan is the yen, often symbolized by a capital "Y".
- Early issues had currency in "sen", which are like cents.
- Korea uses an entirely different set of characters for their language.
- South Korean stamps often have a yin-yang symbol.
- South Korean stamps often have the letters CH on them.
- North Korean stamps often have DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) on them.
Stamps East is the online Canadian source for stamps and other philatelic items from the People's Republic of China (China, PRC), the Republic of China (Taiwan, ROC), and other stamp issuing jurisdictions in Asia particularly East Asia.