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Stamps and seasons

Jean-François Fitou - Pyongyang, North Korea - 15 April 2016

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All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

The privilege of issuing a stamp or stopping the calendar: two ways of expressing sovereignty, which is the only power that can stamp its mark in this way and give time meaning; two universal aspects of nationhood, which arose with nations themselves and are inseparable from them. North Korea, which constantly asserts its uniqueness, does not neglect either of them.

Stamp collecting is therefore taken seriously in Pyongyang. The museum-shop devoted to it is one of the lively places in the city centre, and one of the most enjoyable to visit. The museum - and the press - have announced the most recent set of stamps issued by the DPRK: all traditional themes (wildlife, the reforestation campaign, images of recent prestigious accomplishments, and the various banknotes of the national currency, the won).

The most original stamp in this series commemorates 15 August 2015, when North Korea decided to create its own time zone, shifting by half an hour compared to all of its neighbours. Since that date, we have therefore lived in our own time zone, in a unique time, ours alone, reflecting the exceptional nature of this country. The stamp illustrating this blog post celebrates this break in the order of time.

North Korea’s decision to create its own unique space-time is hardly surprising: it is geographically very isolated and has decided to distance itself temporally too - all the more so as it uses the Juche calendar, counting years from the birthdate of Kim Il-Sung, 15 April 1912.

Since 15 August 2015 (the dates are no coincidence), everything has been unique in North Korea.

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