Behind Mansudae: Art from the Biggest Studio in North Korea

Art from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is a trademark for contemporary socialist realism. You can actually purchase DPRK art online—everything from propaganda posters to lucid landscapes, flower bouquets, and even family portraits. Sure, the propaganda posters sell best (they’re also the cheapest), but the jewel paintings are another thing entirely (rare and glitzy, completely made of stones).

Just a few weeks ago, at a trade expo in Dandong, China, with more than a hundred DPRK companies, the most popular attraction was a DPRK fine-art exhibition, which opened at Dandong Gallery on October 10. CCTV noted the art exhibit became the highlight of the trade expo, selling 30 artworks in the first three days. As you’ll see in this video, there was no propaganda art. It was the more expressive, postcard-y stuff. In other words, while many other North Korean barriers are up, fine art is one

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