The jubilation stops here

28 02 2008

LiberationKorea, Scott 328, 1961, 26mm x 37mm
Here we have a multicolored stamp showing a lit torch, and nearly broken chain, with a background made up by a map of the Korean peninsula partitioned between South and North. The torch is being held up by three hands, perhaps symbolizing the alliance opposing the forces of the hated foe. Streaming from the center of the stamp out to the tight geometric frame are bright rays of glory. It is all to commemorate the end of a war – not the Korean War, in fact, but World War II, sixteen years earlier.

One date appearing on the stamp makes sense to me: 8-15 (also 4294-8-15 using the Korean calendar), the date of the Japanese surrender. The formal hand-over of control of Korea to the Allies was a little later, on September 9, 1945 in Seoul. The significance of 4-19 and 5-16 is unfortunately not known to me. (If anyone can help, please leave a comment, thanks!)

The design suggests a lot of things to me. South Korea in light blue stands in contrast to the drab, brown north. The chain between is weakened, but stretches across the armed border still, where the fierce flame of the torch and the convergence of the orange rays. It is as if the stamp is saying that the occupier from the south was pushed out in part by the ally to the North, but there was a subsequent price to be paid in the form of national partition during one of the hottest conflicts of the Cold War era.

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