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Report: North Korea paintings being sold on Chinese e-commerce platforms

The works of North Korean artists are on sale in Chinese online marketplaces, according to a recent press report. File Photo by How Hwee Young/EPA
The works of North Korean artists are on sale in Chinese online marketplaces, according to a recent press report. File Photo by How Hwee Young/EPA

Sept. 15 (UPI) -- North Korean artworks are selling at high prices in online marketplaces in China in violation of international sanctions, according to a press report.

Radio Free Asia's Korean service reported the works of state-commissioned painters of Pyongyang's Mansudae Art Studio can be found on popular e-commerce sites in China, including Taobao and Jingdong, also known as JD.com.

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The works of Mansudae artists came under United Nations Security Council sanctions in August 2017, because of their suspected link to Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.

Paintings from North Korea are not the only items available on Chinese platforms. Liquor, agricultural produce, cosmetics, and North Korean bills and coins are also on sale, according to RFA.

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North Korean foodstuffs, including pine nuts and pine mushrooms, fell under U.N. sanctions in December 2017, when the Security Council adopted Resolution 2397. Both products are on sale on Chinese sites, according to the report.

A U.N. North Korea sanctions committee source told RFA sales of North Korean products violate Section 6 of sanctions Resolution 2397, which also bans sales of North Korean machinery, electronics, and rare earth minerals.

North Korean paintings could be highly sought-after commodities in China. One painting depicting a peak in Mount Kumgang was priced at 40,000 Chinese yuan, or about $5,900, the report says.

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China is a member of the U.N. Security Council, but the government may have been unable to completely implement sanctions on North Korean paintings in 2017. The United States has previously said Beijing is not fulfilling its international sanctions obligations.

Washington continues to charge individuals, including North Korean nationals, with violating U.S. law.

U.S. prosecutors, according to an affidavit signed Thursday, indicted Ri Jong Chol, Ri Yu Gyong, two North Koreans, and a Malaysian national. The group used a network of front companies to bypass banking restrictions and buy U.S. commodities for North Korean clients between 2015 and 2016, according to the Organized Crime and Reporting Project.

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