A visitor’s centre near the Workers’ Party Foundation Monument in Pyongyang was adorned with this landscape view of the volcanic crater lake at the top of Paekdu Mountain. Situated on the border between North Korea and China, Paekdu is the tallest mountain on the entire Korean peninsula, and (in the official narrative) the birthplace of Kim Jong-Il.
In Pyongyang, Mansudae Art Studio is the heart of the North Korean art production industry. Far from creating clichéd soviet-era propaganda, Mansudae is a centre of artistic innovation. One of my favourite art styles is Chosonhwa (조선화), a combination of traditional Chinese rice paper painting and impressionistic styles.
The North Pyongan Provincial Fine Arts Studio in Sinuiju is a small gallery space, but features an impressive and telling array of paintings. Whereas Mansudae focused on pastoral scenes and experimental work, the gallery in Sinuiju featured pieces celebrating the industrial prowess of the country — scenes of factories, railroads, and infrastructure megaprojects.
A closer look at the painting: Kim Jong Suk (mother of Kim Jong Il) inspects a smelting factory.