Hot Links
Message Board
Article Archives
APS Application
AFDCS Application
APS Chapter Homepages

Message Board Home Bookstore Links

Korea, Japan Fight Over Stamps

South Korea's first stamp of the year is angering Japan. It features an island claimed by both countries, called "Takeshima" in Japan and "Tok-do" or "Dokdo" in South Korea.

It's uninhabited, but surrounded by fertile fishing grounds. Both countries have claimed it since Korea was liberated from Japanese colonial rule in 1945.

The South Korean postal service plans to begin selling a set of four stamps titled "The Nature of Tok-do" on Jan. 16 picturing birds and flowers native to the island.

Click here for a Larger View

There was a demonstration in support of the stamps in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul Friday.

Japan's Public Management Ministry sent a letter in September asking South Korean postal authorities to "reconsider" the plan, and the Foreign Ministry repeated the request through diplomatic channels in December, the Asahi newspaper reported.

Japan says portraying the disputed island on stamps violates the spirit of the Universal Postal Union, which aims for international cooperation, the reports said.

Here are details on the stamps, from the Korea Post Web site:

Surrounded by the sea on three sides, the territorial reach of Korea includes more than 3,400 islands of all shapes and sizes. This series of stamps featuring the ecological system of the islands promotes public awareness of the significance of preserving these islands. Introduced in the first of the series is the nature of Dokdo Island.

Making their home on the island of Dokdo are some 50 species of plants including Pinus thunbergii Parlatore, Euonymus japonicus Thunberg, Farfugium japonicum (Linn ) Kitamura, Aster spathulifolius Maxim. var. oharai (Nakai) Y. Lee, Calystegia soldanella R. Brown, Dianthus superbus Linn var. longicalycinus (Maxim.) Williams, Tetragonia tetragonoides (Pall.) O. Kuntze, Cyrtomium falcatum (Linn ) Presl, Portulaca oleracea Linn , Taraxacum mongolicum H. Mazz., Plantago asiatica Linn , Setaria viridis (Linn ) Beauv., Chenopodium album Linn var. centrorubrum Makino, Artemisia princeps Pampans.

Most of these plants are short as an adaptation to withstand the gusty sea winds and the leaves are generally thick and covered with fine hairs for protection against the cold. The island's many steep slopes causes the rainfall to run off into the ocean quickly resulting in a deficiency of moisture and soil that is relatively poor in nutrients. Thus, the number and variety of wild plants on the island is limited. From May to June, Dokdo is covered with Calystegia soldanella R. Brown that bloom pink flowers while in September, light purplish flowers of Aster spathulifolius Maxim. var. oharai (Nakai) Y. Lee enrich the scenery of the island.

Every year from spring to summer, Black-tailed Gulls, Streaked Shearwaters and Swinhoe's Storm Petrels breed on the island. During the migration season, such migratory birds as Red-necked Phalaropes, Ospreys, Dusky Thrushes, and Gray-tailed Tattlers pass through the island. The breeding ground has been designated as Natural Monument No. 336 and is protected as the 'breeding site for the sea birds of Dokdo'. Black-tailed gulls, a permanent resident of Korea, which can be easily spotted on the seashores around the nation, flies to Dokdo every May. Streaked shearwaters and swinhoe's fork-tailed Petrels, both sea birds, lay one egg after digging a hole in the crevices of the rocks or on the soil on isolated islands of Korea. These summer migratory birds leave for Southeast Asia in the fall.

Technical Specifications:

    Title: Nature of Dokdo
    Kind: Four kinds
    Date of Issue: January 16, 2004
    Quantity: 560,000 stamps each
    Denomination: 190 won
    Design: Calystegia soldanella R. Brown, Aster spathulifolius Maxim. var. oharai (Nakai) Y. Lee, Calonectris laucomelas, Larus crassirostris
    Stamp No: 2357-2360
    Printing Process and Colors: Photogravure, five colors
    Size of Stamp: 40mm x 30mm
    Image Area: 40mm x 30mm
    Perforation: 13
    Sheet Composition: 4 x 4 (four stamps se-tenant)
    Paper: White Unwatermarked
    Original Painting: Lee, Bok-sik
    Designer: Lee, Gi-seog
    Printer: Korea Minting and Security Printing Corporation

Virtual Stamp Club Home Page