2 watches & boxes inscribed Prime Minister Republic of Korea - Govt. gifts?

Discussion in 'Antique Discussion' started by journeymagazine, Feb 12, 2024.

  1. journeymagazine

    journeymagazine Well-Known Member

    I found these 2 watches in a box of this-n-thats that came off a truck at a local thrift store. The boxes are plain from the outside, but when I opened them I saw Prime Minister Republic of Korea printed on the inside of the box's tops and the same - with Korean writing under that (a signature?) engraved on the back of both watches.
    They also have a symbol on the face at 12 that I thought may be a Korean official logo or something?
    I thought I'd found an official his & hers gift watches from the Korean Prime Minister to a visiting VIP, but when I looked up the name Carmen found on the clasp of each, I found it is a VERY inexpensive watch.
    Were these gifts from the Korea prime minister? To be an official government gift it would seem they would give something better (and I don't mean a Rolex)?
    Thanks for any thoughts

    LauraGarnet02 likes this.
  2. daveydempsey

    daveydempsey Moderator Moderator

    LauraGarnet02, Roaring20s and Bronwen like this.
  3. moreotherstuff

    moreotherstuff Izorizent

    Here's an article about what seems to be a similar, modern, situation:

    "The watches are used as gifts in cases of the prime minister’s official visits to social welfare centers or military bases..."

    So the impression I get is that they are souvenirs rather than diplomatic gifts, but they did come from a Prime Minister.

    They do show up on eBay.

  4. Marote

    Marote Well-Known Member

    If I click on your link, I also get the sign up message blocking the contents, but when I do a google search with watches-moon-jae-in-south-korea and click on the NYTimes link there, the whole article can be read
    LauraGarnet02 and Bronwen like this.
  5. journeymagazine

    journeymagazine Well-Known Member

    Thank you both - I searched for Koea prime minister watch - may be that's why I couldn't find it?
    daveydempsy I went to your link & at bottom it said Click to read full story & got to see all (I'm pretty sure I don't have a NY Times subscription! Maybe because it was on my phone?
    Here is full article - thank you again for your help!
    In South Korea, a Presidential Collectible for Your Wrist
    • Share full article

    Cho Hyoun-chan’s collection of South Korean presidential watches.Credit...Jean Chung for The New York Times


    By Vivian Morelli

    • March 23, 2018
    SEOUL, South Korea — In a country that has faced political divisions and difficult relations with its nearest neighbors, the popularity of an item related to the president has made headlines.

    No, not President Trump’s $25 “Make America Great Again” cap.

    It’s the President Moon Jae-in watch, an unpretentious timepiece with a gold-colored case and beige sheepskin strap, named for the South Korean leader. The value is about $40, but it’s not for sale — the quartz timepiece is given to guests at the presidential Blue House, to foreign dignitaries and to Koreans living overseas on occasions when the president visits.

    The tradition began with President Park Chung-hee, who was in office from 1961 to 1979. The first watch was made during Mr. Park’s administration, but the presidential Blue House did not provide the exact date. Some collectors said it was for participants in the Saemaul, a rural-development political initiative, in the 1970s.

    Regardless, watch collectors and political supporters alike have become fans of the keepsakes.

    “I heard they’re very inexpensive and produced for a very small amount of money, but they actually feel quite luxurious,” said Hong Jeong-hwa, 29, an attorney and a member of Incheon Metropolitan Council. “They don’t look cheap.”



    Ms. Hong received her watch last summer, shortly after Mr. Moon was elected in May. “I was invited to the Blue House because I was involved in his electoral campaign,” she said. “It was an event organized to thank us for our support.”

    The white mother-of-pearl dial features the president’s signature as well as two phoenixes and a rose of Sharon, a combination that is the traditional emblem of the Korean president. On the back is engraved in the Korean alphabet Hangul, “Putting people first,” Mr. Moon’s political philosophy.

    Hong Jeong-hwa with her watch celebrating the current South Korean president, Moon Jae-in. She was involved in his campaign and received the watch as a keepsake.Credit...Jean Chung for The New York Times

    (According to the Blue House, the rose emblem was rendered in a rose-gold shade rather than the traditional yellow gold, to indicate Mr. Moon’s willingness for change.)



    “By having his watch, since he’s a person we respect and like, it feels like we are sharing something that’s very special with him,” Ms. Hong said, adding that she has worn the watch only once because it is so precious to her. “You’re sharing something you both have, together. Something similar; he’s wearing one, and you’re wearing one, too.”

    Cho Hyoun-chan, a physician and professor in the laboratory medicine department at Kangdong Sacred Heart Hospital, owns several presidential watches, which he acquired through a diplomat friend, and he even created a blog about them.

    Timely News and Features About Watches
    “The design is pretty standard, they usually all look quite similar, and they always include the phoenix presidential standard,” Dr. Cho, 67, said. “Sometimes there is the president’s signature, but other times not.”

    He displayed a delicate watch with a round dial and black faux alligator strap, the women’s model that was released for President Lee Myung-bak during his administration, from 2008 to 2013. “Two sets were produced, one for men, and a smaller one for women,” Dr. Cho said. “See, the name engraved on the back is actually his wife’s, Kim Yoon-ok, so she could give out her own watches, too.”



    Traditionally administrations do not identify watch manufacturers, although they are known to be chosen from among a group of small companies recommended by the Korea Watch & Clock Industry Cooperative. “The first few models were produced overseas, but over the years, as the technology got better in Korea, they started producing them domestically,” Dr. Cho said.

    The back of one of Dr. Cho’s presidential watches.Credit...Jean Chung for The New York Times

    Presidential timepieces tend to be most popular during an administration’s early days, to the point that unofficial versions have been produced.

    Dr. Cho said unauthorized watches were produced for President Kim Dae-jung, who was in office from 1998 to 2003. “Kim Dae-jung had the highest number of watches produced under his name, around 200,000, but they were not officially from the Blue House,” he said. “At that time, the politicians from his native province of Jeolla wanted to show off and say they knew the president personally and produced the watches using his name. They weren’t official.



    “Almost everyone in Jeolla had that watch at one point,” he added, “so people were saying it became worthless.”

    Production has been limited in recent years. “In the past, employees of the Blue House used to be able to just grab four or five watches to give to their friends, but nowadays they only receive one on their birthday,” Dr. Cho said.

    In fact, Mr. Moon only got his own watch on Jan. 24, his 65th birthday (66th, if using the traditional Korean method — a baby is considered a year old at birth).



    Like many souvenirs, some of the watches do show up on online sales sites, and sometimes at extravagant prices. The Moon watch, for example, has been sold on Joonggonara, a Korean online flea market, for the equivalent of more than $1,000.

    Dr. Cho, a professor in the laboratory medicine department at Kangdong Sacred Heart Hospital, has created a blog about his presidential watches.Credit...Jean Chung for The New York Times

    Lim Hyung-taek, managing director of the global business division at Seoul Guarantee Insurance, said it’s a bit like the stock market: “The watch’s value moves in proportion to the popularity and power of presidents.”

    In June 2015 he received a watch from President Park Geun-hye in recognition of his contribution to increasing overseas construction projects for Korean companies.

    “At first, I wore it and people were envious of it, now maybe not so much after what happened,” Mr. Lim said, referring to Ms. Park’s impeachment in 2016 following a corruption scandal. “But it’s a symbol of my prize. I received this watch not from an individual, but from the Korean government. Even if she’s in jail now I feel very proud to have received it.”



    Now, Kim Dae-oh, senior researcher at the Korea Aerospace Research Institute and a fervent presidential watch collector who also has a picture-filled blog, said, “the Moon Jae-in is worth a lot now because of its scarcity but also its symbolism.”

    Actually, according to the state-run network Arirang TV, several things associated with Mr. Moon are in demand: the round frames of his glasses, which are made in Denmark; an orange BlackYak windbreaker he once wore while hiking, and his preferred coffee blend, now called the “Moon Blend” and served at some Seoul coffee shops. “I hope the Moon Jae-in watch stays popular, Mr. Lim said. “It means Korea is doing well.”

    And presidential watches haven’t been limited to South Korea’s leaders, Dr. Cho said, noting that there was a Barack Obama watch. It featured the presidential seal, Mr. Obama’s name and his signature, and was made in South Korea for sale in the United States.

    Asked whether there was one made for President Trump, Dr. Cho said, “I’m not sure.”

    A correction was made on
    March 23, 2018
    An earlier version of this article misstated the name of a collector who has a blog about presidential watches. He is Cho Hyoun-chan, not Hyoun Chan-cho.

    When we learn of a mistake, we acknowledge it with a correction. If you spot an error, please let us know at
  6. LauraGarnet02

    LauraGarnet02 Well-Known Member

    It depends on your browser and/or your ad blockers. I can read New York times, too. I use Brave browser and it bypasses the paywall somehow. It doesn't work for all sites though, I've noticed when I click links.

    Here is an article with a variety of solutions and instructions.
    Marote likes this.
  7. Marote

    Marote Well-Known Member

    Option 1 is the one that worked for me (in Chrome, without ad blockers)
    LauraGarnet02 likes this.
  8. journeymagazine

    journeymagazine Well-Known Member

    What wording did you use to find on ebay?
    moreotherstuff likes this.
  9. moreotherstuff

    moreotherstuff Izorizent

  10. journeymagazine

    journeymagazine Well-Known Member

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