Pyongyang's Mansudae Art Studio, pictured, may be the biggest art factory in the world. It employs roughly 4,000 workers, including some 1,000 artists. The massive atelier's main task is to churn out North Korean propaganda, but it also runs a thriving multimillion-dollar side business: building statues, monuments, museums, sports stadiums, and at least one palace for several foreign countries. Clients include Algeria, Angola, Botswana, Benin, Cambodia, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Germany, Malaysia, Mozambique, Madagascar, Namibia, Senegal, Syria, Togo, and Zimbabwe, according to Curtis Melvin, a researcher at the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University. What follows is some of Mansudae's work, both in North Korea and abroad.

Photograph by Eric Lafforgue

Pyongyang's Mansudae Art Studio, pictured, may be the biggest art factory in the world. It employs roughly 4,000 workers, including some 1,000 artists. The massive atelier's main task is to churn out North Korean propaganda, but it also runs a thriving multimillion-dollar side business: building statues, monuments, museums, sports stadiums, and at least one palace for several foreign countries. Clients include Algeria, Angola, Botswana, Benin, Cambodia, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Germany, Malaysia, Mozambique, Madagascar, Namibia, Senegal, Syria, Togo, and Zimbabwe, according to Curtis Melvin, a researcher at the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University. What follows is some of Mansudae's work, both in North Korea and abroad.

Photograph by Eric Lafforgue

The Work of North Korea's Art Factory

Mansudae Art Studio
Mansudae Art Studio

Pyongyang's Mansudae Art Studio, pictured, may be the biggest art factory in the world. It employs roughly 4,000 workers, including some 1,000 artists. The massive atelier's main task is to churn out North Korean propaganda, but it also runs a thriving multimillion-dollar side business: building statues, monuments, museums, sports stadiums, and at least one palace for several foreign countries. Clients include Algeria, Angola, Botswana, Benin, Cambodia, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Germany, Malaysia, Mozambique, Madagascar, Namibia, Senegal, Syria, Togo, and Zimbabwe, according to Curtis Melvin, a researcher at the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University. What follows is some of Mansudae's work, both in North Korea and abroad.

Photograph by Eric Lafforgue
Kim Dynasty
Kim Dynasty

Mansudae Art Studio produces several types of artwork, including paintings, murals, and ceramics. The atelier's artists are the only North Koreans sanctioned to create images of the Kim family dynasty. Pictured, a painting of Kim Jong Il.

Photograph by Martin Sasse/laif/Redux
Monument to the Founding of the Korean Workers Party
Monument to the Founding of the Korean Workers Party

Mansudae also produces statues and monuments like this 164-foot-tall Pyongyang monolith, the Monument to the Founding of the Korean Workers Party. The three fists are raising high a hammer, a sickle, and a calligraphy brush.

Photograph by Alain Nogues/AP Photo
Kim II Sung
Kim II Sung

Mansudae first expanded its repertoire to serve the interests of foreign countries in the 1970s, launching an international branch called Mansudae Overseas Project Group of Companies. Many foreign countries hire the atelier because North Korea offers cheap labor and has a long history of building valorizing statues and monuments, like this one of Kim Il Sung.

Photograph by Imago/Zuma Press
The Great and Dear Leaders
The Great and Dear Leaders

Here are statues of Kim Il Sung and his son, the late Kim Jong Il.

Photograph by Martin Sasse/laif/Redux
Work in Progress
Work in Progress

Here's a work in progress in one of Mansudae's studios. The atelier often designs and builds models of its foreign works in Pyongyang, but it also sends workers abroad to do construction on-site.

Photograph by Eric Lafforgue
Revolutionary Heroes
Revolutionary Heroes

This Pyongyang sculpture depicts North Korean revolutionary heroes.

Photograph by Reuters
African Renaissance Monument
African Renaissance Monument

Senegal’s African Renaissance Monument, unveiled just outside Dakar in 2010, is among Mansudae’s most notable works. At 164 feet, it stands taller than the Statue of Liberty and Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer. The monument is intended to represent “Africa emerging from darkness, from five centuries of slavery and two centuries of colonialism,” Abdoulaye Wade, Senegal’s former president, told the Wall Street Journal. “Only the North Koreans could build my statue,” he said, adding, “I had no money.”

Photograph by Jeffrey Attaway/Creative Commons
DR Congo's Laurent Kabila
DR Congo's Laurent Kabila

This is Mansudae's statue of the Democratic Republic of Congo's former leader Laurent Kabila. The North Koreans have built statues of several African leaders, many of which look suspiciously like Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. People in several countries have complained about their leaders using North Korean labor and wasting money on self-promotional projects.

Photograph by Schalk van Zuydam/AP Photo
Namibia's Presidential Palace
Namibia's Presidential Palace

Namibia is one of Mansudae's best repeat customers. The country has hired North Korea to build a military museum, an independence museum, the Heroes Acre monument, and this presidential palace.

Photograph by Daily NK
Angola Peace Monument
Angola Peace Monument

Here is Mansudae's rendering of the peace monument it built for Angola.

Photograph by Daily NK
Frankfurt's Fairy Tale Fountain
Frankfurt's Fairy Tale Fountain

Germany is the only Western democracy to have hired Mansudae Art Studio. In 2005, Frankfurt commissioned the Pyongyang studio to re-create its so-called Fairy Tale Fountain, an art nouveau relic from 1910 that had been melted down for its metal during World War II. The total cost for the project: 200,000 euros, including shipping and handling. This photo shows the fountain in 1920.

Photograph by Leonhard Kleemann/ Stadt-Frankfurt
Plaster Model
Plaster Model

Here's a glimpse of Mansudae's plaster model of the German fountain, shot in a Pyongyang studio. Look closely and you'll see another work in progress.

Courtesy Philipp Sturm