An Jun Ok, 49, a woman living in Ryugyong-dong No. 2, Pothonggang District, Pyongyang, has been collecting stamps for over four decades.
Her daughter Om Yu Yong, 16, is also a stamp collector.
The reason why An became a stamp collector was associated with her grandfather An Yong, an anti-Japanese revolutionary fighter.
She often saw her grandfather’s stamp album from her childhood, and his gift for her on her 5th birthday was a stamp.
There was a reason why An Yong was interested in collecting stamps.
Before the liberation of the country, the Korean people had to use the Japanese stamps whenever they posted letters because they had been deprived of their country by Japan. Just like all other Korean people, he regarded this as a disgrace to the nation.
Soon after Korea was liberated, he began to collect stamps. Among the stamps he collected were “Rose of Sharon” and “Samson Rocks,” which were Korea’s first stamps.
He would say to his children: Collected things, however trivial they may appear, can represent the history of a country and serve as a valuable treasure.
Stamp collecting became a so-called family business that has been carried forward through four generations.
Collecting stamps has become a hobby and habit of An Jun Ok.
She showed special interest in collecting stamps from her childhood.
Whenever she received letters, she would tear stamps off the envelopes and keep them. Once she dumbfounded her family members as she bought stamps with the money her parents had given her to buy clothes on her birthday. The grown-ups in her neighbourhood who knew her hobby always gave her the envelopes of the letters they had received. Her friends presented her with stamp albums and stamps for her birthday gifts.
At first, she collected stamps out of her curiosity, but as the time passed by she felt as if stamp collection was a discipline.
In the course of collecting, arranging and preserving a large number of stamps, she was amazed to see how enormous and profound knowledge they were offering, and became more attached to stamp collecting.
She kept collecting stamps even after she got married.
“Mothers find their pleasure in looking down at their babies every day. Likewise, stamp collectors feel happy and relieved of fatigue when they see stamps every day,” she says.
While studying and sorting her stamps from the socio-historical point of view, she tries to decide on which stamps she would present in exhibitions and how she would give academic explanation of them.
As a member of the Philatelists Union of Korea, she has been always highly appreciated at the Korean Stamp Show held in the country every year.
Her stamps presented in 36 sheets at the Korea-Russia stamps exhibition held in September Juche 103 (2014) under the co-sponsorship of the Philatelists Union of Korea and the Russian National Academy of Philately drew the attention of visitors for the authenticity of the data.
Her daughter Om Yu Yong has also been collecting stamps since the age of 8, and Om has 7 stamp albums now. Last year she was officially registered as a member of the Philatelists Union of Korea. She is now devoting herself to collecting stamps in order to take part in the upcoming shows along with her mother.
“What we are doing, I mean collecting stamps, seems to be as small as a stamp, but I regard it as a noble job for telling the history and culture of our country and the spirit of the times to the coming generations,” says An Jun Ok.