Impressions of PHILAKOREA-2002
Gary N. McLean

2002 PHILAKOREA-Korea's Web-Site

PHILAKOREA-2002, my second opportunity to view a World Stamp Exhibition in Korea, was held in Seoul from August 2-11. According to press releases, there were 756 exhibits (3,467 frames) from 142 countries. The medal distribution for the exhibits was:
Large Gold, 36
Gold, 98
Large Vermeil, 128
Vermeil, 128
Large Silver, 107
Silver, 83
Silver-Bronze, 66
Bronze, 21

Since this totals only 667, the remaining 89 exhibits must have been non-competing or did not qualify for a medal.

In spite of enthusiastic reports regarding attendance in the press reports, attendance, especially compared with the last event in 1994, was very disappointing. (Of course, there were torrential rainstorms about mid-week, with warnings of typhoons!) Even the crowds of children that I experienced in 1994 were far less visible this year, though there were as many girls as boys. The exhibit floor was bare; the number of dealers and the quantity and quality of materials were also disappointing. After just a few days, booths began to empty, and country agencies began to combine their services. Even the special events that were scheduled for each day of the show were poorly attended, though the quality of the cultural events was high. Many regions of the country had booths in a special tourism area—they were almost desperate to give away their souvenirs, maps, CDs, and brochures, as, again, almost no one was viewing these exhibits. I was especially surprised that the “Your Own Stamp” booth was not more popular. What a wonderful opportunity to pick up a very special philatelic souvenir (see my “special” stamp below) (Figure 1). Enclosed with this issue of KP is a souvenir of our 50th anniversary logo combined with this special stamp, a copy of which is shown in (Figure 2), I hope you enjoy it!

There was one booth that seemed to be particularly popular—the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). The booth was large and contained stamps, coins, crafts, and books. It was staffed by Chinese (since the North Koreans were not allowed to enter South Korea). What a difference from 1994! Almost every dealer had the popular topicals from North Korea, and people were buying!

Any serious philatelists would have shuddered over and over during the show. Outside the temporary post office were tables on which there were glue sticks so the newly purchased stamps (mostly soccer in celebration of the World Cup showing) could be glued into special souvenir covers on which to obtain commemorative cancels ((Figure 3)(and 4). Another area on the floor was set up so kids could glue stamps on boxes ((Figure 5) and make philatelic artwork ((Figure 6). The other children’s event was the philatelic passport. There was a page for a stamp from every agency with a booth at the show. Many of the agencies (especially former soviet republics) used this opportunity to get rid of older stamps. These were often pasted (with glue) into the passport and then stamped by the agency.

There were two highlights for me. The first was the chance to renew old friendships and to make new ones. I had the opportunity to spend a full day with Sae-jeung Kim and many other senior leaders of philately in Korea. I also had the chance to meet Kenneth Clark, the editor of Kiku Shimbun, a journal I much admire. We were able to have long conversations about our collecting interests, and I was honored to be walked through his exhibits—very interesting.

The second highlight was to find a dealer with Korean revenues on documents. These are not easy to find. They were pricey, but I used the honorarium I had received from doing a workshop for a major Korean company to make some very nice purchases. I hope to include some of these in a future article.

As usual, the organizing committee produced a huge number of souvenirs to entice attendance. The problem is that they were sent at a very late date (some of which actually arrived after my return home). A sample of some of these was shown in KP 48(2), and additional items include: Magnetic Memo Holders ((Figure 7); a jigsaw puzzle ((Figure 8); a CD-rom ((Figure 9); a handkerchief ((Figure 10); and a stamp stock book ((Figure 11). I’m sure there were others that I did not find.

Another very interesting souvenir that I picked up while at the show was a number of half sheets of Korean definitives that were cancelled-to-order (CTO). These sheets were handed out to juniors (kids) who attended special sessions designed for them. A sample of such stamps is shown in (Figure 12).

Three stamp issues were released during the show: a 190-won stamp for PHILAKOREA2002 (August 2), a 190-won stamp for "Philately Week Special", (August 3), and a sheet of 24 190-won stamps commemorating the success of the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea’s Team Advancement to the Final Four (August 7) (See the sheet). Throughout the show, I was stopped by mothers who wanted to have my picture taken with their children, or by teenagers who wanted their picture taken with me, Perhaps it was just because I am a foreigner— but my Korean friends said that they thought it was because they thought I looked like the coach of the Korean World Cup team!

One fascinating booth was demonstrating a new stamp technology that was supposed to be available beginning in November—the ability to place a recording on a stamp. By scanning it on a computer, it would play the message back. So I recorded my voice on a stamp—fascinating. They expect the cost of the technology, per stamp, to be between 300-500 won; the final decision had not yet been made, Everyone who came by the booth was asked what he or she would be prepared to pay for the technology, and that seemed to be the range, The company had originally considered 1,000 won, but very few participants seemed to be willing to pay this. In the process, I was able to pick up a stamp on envelope ((Figure 13), a stamp on postcard ((Figure 14) (I have two different types of stamps on different cards), and, after some coaxing, a sheet of stamps ((Figure 15) using the technology.

Another booth was advertising the making of caricatures of photos to be inserted into the "My Own Stamp". Both of these technologies relied on the My Own Stamp technology.

As might be expected, there were a large number of Korean exhibits—far too many to study careffilly by walking the aisles, I am hoping to obtain copies of many of them to feature in future issues of KP. The Grand Prix National was selected from the Korean exhibitors. It was awarded to Se-young Chang for his exhibit, “Korean Empire 1884-1905.” It was a truly incredible exhibit! Other Korean exhibits and their awards are detailed in a separate article.

It will be interesting, given the attendance and the costs involved, to see if Korea comes back again in ten years with PHILAKOREA-2012!

2002 PHILAKOREA-Korea's Web-Site

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