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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Stamp Investment Tip: South Korea 1948 Pres. Syngman Rhee (Scott #90)

In 1948, Syngman Rhee was elected the first president of South Korea, and his inauguration was celebrated with the issuance of a stamp (Scott #90). 50,000 were issued, and Scott '11 values the unused stamp at $150.- ($300 for NH) . Many of the stamps were used and probably discarded, so it is likely that fewer than 10,000 remain in unused condition.

Many of the early stamps of South Korea were rather primitively produced, and mediocre centering, rough perfs, and gloppy gum are normal for these issues. Not many Koreans were collecting stamps in the late '40s and early '50s, and many of the stamps that were collected unused were probably purchased by U.S. and allied soldiers during the Korean War. The stamps have increased in value over the last few years as the market has developed within the country, and I expect that they will continue to do so.

South Korea, a nation of about 50 million people, is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Currently, it is the world's 13th largest economy and eighth largest exporter. It's export-fueled economic growth has led to a miraculous explosion in its GDP, from almost nothing 50 years ago to about $1 trillion today. Annual GDP growth has averaged 4.2% over the last 5 years, reflecting a slowdown in 2009 due to the global financial crisis. Furthermore, South Korea may be the most rapidly aging nation on earth, as its 65+ population is expected to more than quadruple from 9% in 2005 to 38% in 2050. Obviously, this could pose economic challenges for the country, but it will almost certainly add to its stamp collecting population.


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