U.N.: North Korea art exhibit in UAE could violate sanctions

By Elizabeth Shim   |   April 11, 2018 at 2:02 PM
North Korea art from Pyongyang’s Mansudae Art Studo is on exhibit in the United Arab Emirates, according to a recent report. File Photo by How Hwee Young/EPA

April 11 (UPI) -- The United Nations Security Council is investigating an exhibit of North Korean artwork in the United Arab Emirates to determine whether the show is in violation of international sanctions.

The North Korean art, on display at an upscale hotel in the Gulf state, might be sold to earn foreign currency for the Kim Jong Un regime.

Hugh Griffiths, a member of the U.N. Panel of Experts monitoring the U.N. sanctions on North Korea, said there is a high possibility any art sales are violating North Korea sanctions, Radio Free Asia reported Tuesday.

Griffiths said North Korea's state-run Mansudae Art Studio has been frequently working with foreign entities.

These cases of collaboration with North Korea should be subject to investigation, the U.N. official said.

Mansudae Art Studio has been under international sanctions since August 2017 when the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 2371, according to South Korean news service Newsis.

Resolution 2375, adopted Sept. 11, 2017, further stipulates joint operations with North Korean entities or individuals are banned under the resolution's Article 18.

The resolution went into effect Jan. 11, following a four-month grace period.

A source at the UAE gallery said about 30 works of art, including paintings, are on exhibit, and that they are all from North Korea.

The art ranges from postcard-size works to large-scale canvases that fill an entire wall, and feature nature or animals, according to RFA.

One painting of a tiger was priced at $4,000, the report states, and is likely the work of North Korean artist Ri Kum Hyok.

North Korea has frequently used art and performances as part of its diplomacy with the outside world.

Following the recent summit between Kim and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, China is expected to participate in the 31st April Spring Friendship Art Festival to be held in Pyongyang, South Korean news service Financial News reported Wednesday.

Relations between the two partners have improved following the summit.

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