The East Asian Collection at the University of Chicago Library will be showcasing this fall, an acquisition of more than 2,000 North Korean stamps, each of which have been digitized and accompanied by a wide range of in-depth data to form the first digital collection of its kind developed by any library worldwide.  Compiled from 19 stamp books and 30 individual sheets, the North Korean Stamp Collection spans more than five decades, from 1962 to 2017, as well as a striking variety of subject areas. 

Due to the country's long history of disctorial rule and closed borders, information on North Korea has remained limited to much of the outside world.  Through the many images found in the collection, even (everyday/non-specialist) library users will gain an easy opportunity to come into visual contact with the shifting politics and culture of North Korea, including changing perspectives on subjects randing from natural resources to tourist attractions to day-to-day life.  In the decades following North Korea's issuing of its first stamp in 1946, these printed items were limited to postal usage.  After 1970, however, production increased greatly as stamps turned into profitable items for export to both Asian and European countries.

Nineteen stamp albums (1,700 stamps) were acquired from China, and 300 early stamps came from a private collector in Germany.  This private collector was a sailor who was on overseas ships and collected stamps and money from different countries.  These acquisitons have been compiled, digitized and developed to provide Korean Studies scholars at the University with a valuable resource.

In cooperation with the Visual Resources Center (VRC), the stamps will also be accessible via an online Collection with identifying information such as Korean and English titles, description, publication, year and Juche as well as keywords.  

This stamp collection will be displayed on the Fifth Floor of the Joseph Regenstein Library from September 23 through December 23.

Contributed by The University of Chicago Library

For more information regarding this exhibition, please contact the project's curator, Korean Studies Librarian Jee-Young Park or click here.