It’s becoming increasingly difficult for North Korea to make money from exports as sanctions bite down, hard. From coal briquettes to minerals, even fishery products, a majority of its most prolific exports are capped.
But one thing got left out from the raft of sanctions—its fine art. And China is its major buyer.
In the Chinese border town of Dandong, galleries are showcasing paintings from North Korean artists and the dealers are selling them to private collectors and to businesses that hang them on public display, such as in hotels and restaurants.
As the market heats up, art enthusiasts can’t get enough of the paintings that usually feature tigers, workers, landscapes, and beautiful North Korean women. But it’s not just the art itself that is drawing in buyers—original artworks are accessible and affordable. Paintings from note-less artists are priced around only a few hundred US dollars.
“North Korean painters are not fully acknowledged,” said