On August 15, 1961 the
Republic of Korea issued a single stamp with a map of the Korean
peninsula, a broken chain (a chain continues to surround North Korea) and a torch held by three hands. The
peninsula is divided between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
in the north in red, and the Republic of Korea in the south in blue.
The three hands holding the torch each have a numerical designation
which indicates the date of a significant event in the post-war
history of the Republic of Korea.
The hand at the bottom is designated 8.15, which refers
to the Japanese surrender on August 15, 1945 which led to the
establishment of a democratic government in 1948 under United Nations’
auspices. The hand on the left has the date 4.19 which marks the
resignation of Syngman Rhee as president as a result of student
protests against government corruption. The hand on the right, 5.16 is
the date of the military coup of General Chung Hee Park, which toppled
the civilian government, was the proximate cause for the issue.