Overseas Korean Businesspeople Caught in Customs for North Korean Propaganda Art
Takashi Mori , Jan. 16, 2019, 9:32 a.m.
A group of overseas Korean businesspeople who visited North Korea last November bought paintings at Pyongyang's Mansudae Art Studio, which churns out propaganda work, but were caught in customs.
The Korea Customs Service on Thursday revealed that 96 members of the World Federation of Korean Association of Commerce went to an event in Pyongyang on Nov. 18.
On their return via Shenyang, customs officials in Incheon went through their luggage due to an outbreak of African swine fever in the Chinese city and discovered 20 artworks from Mansudae as well as books and cigarettes which they had failed to declare.
All purchases of North Korean products require the approval of the Unification Ministry to be brought into the country and are subject to international sanctions.
Moreover, the Mansudae Art Studio, which specializes in erecting hideous monumental statues in the Third World and churns out saccharine propaganda paintings of North Korea's ruling dynasty, is internationally blacklisted.
It became the target of South Korean and U.S. sanctions in December of 2016, and the UN Security Council blacklisted it in August 2017 because it earns hard currency for the regime abroad.
But the National Intelligence Service, police and customs eventually concluded that the paintings the businesspeople had bought did not violate the sanctions and handed them back to their owners.