North Korea Uses Art To Evade Sanctions

October 19, 2017 in Daily Bulletin

Sue-Lin Wong, Giselda Vagnoni, and Fanny Potkin wrote about North Korea’s booming art market:

  • UN sanctions on North Korea typically targeted trade in natural resources and services like finance.
  • Art was seen as something that could build peace through mutual understanding and so was left untouched.
  • North Korea saw an opportunity and built massive art studios employing thousands of people to sell art abroad.
  • Foreign ambassadors were expected to promote North Korean art in global galleries.
  • Sales of paintings and other work provided a source of hard, sanction-free cash, estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars to the North Korean regime.
  • Much of the demand came from China where a rising middle class is looking to purchase art – and was lured by the low cost of North Korean work.
  • The UN wizened up and is now targeting North Korea’s art market with its sanctions too.
  • But there are ways around the ban – and it’s a difficult one to enforce. Who knows for sure if a particular piece of work came from North Korea.

Read more on Reuters.