The U.N. sanctions resolution bans international transactions with the Mansudae Art Studio, which earned hard currency through overseas sales of its artworks and propaganda statues and sculptures. The studio's overseas assets have been frozen under the sanctions.

Twenty-two North Korean paintings, including the 13 from the Beijing gallery, were on display during the Gwangju Biennale held in Gwangju, about 330 km south of Seoul, from Sept. 7 to Nov. 11. The prices of the North Korean paintings reportedly range from $8,000 to $200,000 apiece.

The Gwangju foundation explained that Beijing's Mansudae Art Museum and its Chinese head, identified only as Ji, who received the rental fee, are not on the U.N. sanctions list.

"Ji's gallery uses the name of Mansudae Art Museum but he is not subject to the U.N. sanctions. Thus the cash payment to Ji is not problematic," said a foundation official.

"Prior to signing the rental contract with Ji in July, our foundation consulted the Ministry of Unification and was told that the contract won't cause any problem," the official said.

The exhibition of the North's paintings is being held at Gwangju's Asia Culture Center under the title "North Korean Art: Paradoxical Realism," as one of the Gwangju Biennale's seven sections.

Source: Yonhap News Agency