Located in a repurposed industrial area of Beijing, China, the Mansudae Art Studio Gallery displays exclusively North Korean works of art that are produced under factory-like conditions in their home country.
The first such art outlet and one of the few DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea)-approved tourist sites outside of their tightly controlled borders, the gallery is said to be overseen by Kim Jong-il himself, allowing only the finest of the Mansudae Studio pieces to be shown. According to the gallery’s website, the studio back in North Korea employs around 4,000 people on a 40,000 square foot production facility to churn out their governmentally approved artworks. It proudly claims to be the largest art production center in the world, and the gallery in Beijing is the one of the only places in the world for outsiders to acquire the cream of that crop.
Much North Korean art is known for its meticulous attention to detail and stark realism. Works in the museum range from oil paintings to sculptures to watercolors to ink drawings to a unique form of North Korean art that uses jewel dust as a medium. Buyers for the pieces range from Americans looking for “unique” pieces to nearby African politicians looking for momentous works for less cash.
The gallery has been known to loan out works for approved exhibitions, but for the most part, the Mansudae Art Studio Gallery is one of the only places in the world that outsiders can view, and purchase, the North Korean art of today.