kim jong un, leadership, north korea, dprk, regional
The Eighth Plenary Session of the Ninth Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) was held at the headquarters of the party's Central Committee from Dec. 26 to 30, 2023, according to the Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the Workers' Party of Korea. (Rodong Sinmun-News1)

North Korea’s Mansudae Overseas Project Group of Companies has started sending professionals overseas to earn foreign currency, Daily NK has learned.

The Mansudae Overseas Project Group of Companies is the international operations unit of the Mansudae Art Studio, which earns foreign exchange by participating in various international projects requiring artistic or architectural skills. The group is named in the list of sanctioned entities under U.N. Security Council Resolution 2371.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Daily NK source in North Korea said Monday that about 30 of the group’s personnel “were sent to Zimbabwe, Angola, Nigeria and other countries via China on May 7 and 8, ostensibly as part of various plans for cooperation and exchanges in the field of art and culture.”

The personnel consisted of experts and engineers in the fields of art, architecture and geometric design, selected by agencies such as the Mansudae Art Studio and the Korean People’s Army Fine Art Company. North Koreans consider such people to be top talent for earning foreign exchange, the source said.

He explained that the personnel were sent to participate in international projects to promote North Korean art and architecture to the world. North Korea quietly began recruiting and selecting them in December, with the actual selectees expected to begin work on large-scale statue and monument projects in the countries to which they were sent.

“The personnel they send will build statues or monuments to commemorate historical figures or symbolic events in the countries, or to open new markets for artworks,” the source said. “The authorities believe it’s an opportunity to show the world North Korea’s artistic and technical prowess while reflecting the cultural demands of the local countries.”

He added: “The latest dispatch goes beyond mere cultural exchange and focuses on fulfilling the state’s quota for foreign exchange earnings.”

Dispatch part of strategy to promote N. Korea’s artistic and architectural skills

In the collective training held before the professionals were sent abroad, lecturers said that the government hopes the Mansudae Overseas Project Group of Companies will generate foreign exchange through international cultural exchange and development projects and help North Korea overcome its economic difficulties.

“The state says this latest dispatch is a multi-pronged strategy to promote the level of our artistic and architectural skills to the whole world through third world countries while earning economic benefits, revealing its hope to activate international cultural exchanges and activities to earn foreign exchange,” the source said.

Meanwhile, the authorities have ordered North Korean diplomats working in Africa to welcome the sent personnel and actively help connect the personnel with local businesses in cooperation with the embassies of each nation.

Daily NK works with a network of sources living in North Korea, China, and elsewhere. Their identities remain anonymous for security reasons. For more information about Daily NK’s network of reporting partners and information-gathering activities, please visit our FAQ page here.

Please send any comments or questions about this article to

Read in Korean