The Mansudae Art Studio is the biggest and most important manufacturer of art in the DPRK. Founded on November 17th 1959 on an area of 120.000 square meters the studio is located west of the city center and right across the street of the Puhung Station of the Pyongyang Metro (more about that station soon…). About 1000 artists, most of them graduates of Pyongyang University, work in 13 groups to create woodcuts, drawings, paintings, bronze statues, embroidery, jewel paintings, ceramics and many more – including all depictions of Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un. The construction company Mansudae Overseas Projects is part of the art studio and not only built the *Juche Tower* and the Rungnado May Day Stadium (the largest stadium in the world…), but also several projects in Africa – the only project in Western Europe was the reconstruction of the Märchenbrunnen (fairy tale fountain) in Frankfurt, Germany.
The Mansudae Art Studio even has an official website where you can look at and buy pieces of art (sadly you have to ask for prices and availability as neither is public information), although it seems like the site hasn’t been updated in six or seven years. Furthermore it is run and maintained by an Italian company, so you won’t have direct contact with the studio or any North Korean person at any point. Click here if you want to check out the site click here: http://www.mansudaeartstudio.com
Visiting the Mansudae Art Studio was short, but interesting. From the center square of the studio, where we saw the rather newly revealed bronze statue depicting Kim Jong-il riding a horse (next to daddy…), we went to the illustrators, the painters and a potter – them explaining us their work, usually while at it. On the way back (to the studio shop, which had some really nice art for sale!) we witnessed quite a bit of construction and saw more sculptures outside – and in less than an hour we were gone. Another visit that went by in no time and without video opportunity… so I added the drive from the North Korean Film Studio to the Mansudae Art Studio through the outskirts of Pyongyang.
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