Koryo Studio

Formerly known as Pyongyang Art Studio

The first Western art gallery to commission and sell work by artists of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), or North Korea.

Founded in 1993 to display a collection of rare DPRK film posters, we opened our first gallery nine years later at the Red House in Beijing, China.

Founded in 1993 to display a collection of rare DPRK film posters, we opened our first gallery nine years later at the Red House in Beijing, China. In 2008 we opened our gallery space in Beijing San Li Tun District showing both collections and works for sale. We pride ourselves on our close contact with the North Korean artists and studios, as well as the collectible and uniquely individual pieces we commission. We also work to develop the profiles of the most outstanding artists and introduce them to the global art scene.

Our Mission

Our goal has always been to commission work rather than simply buy from DPRK art studios. North Korean artists work to a brief set by Koryo Studio founder Nicholas Bonner. This differs from the mundane and repetitive themed works their studios dictate; it frees them from the limitations and proscriptions of the DPRK art world and gives them more latitude to experiment. Furthermore, the recorded commission process gives provenance in a system where copy work abounds.

Commissions

In 2008 we opened our gallery space in Beijing San Li Tun District showing both collections and works for sale. We pride ourselves on our close contact with the North Korean artists and studios, as well as the collectible and uniquely individual pieces we commission. We also work to develop the profiles of the most outstanding artists and introduce them to the global art scene.

Exhibitions

As well as pieces for sale, we have one of the finest collections of North Korean art ranging from the 1950’s to the current day. To encourage discourse we exhibit works from both our collection and commissions at galleries and educational institutions around the globe. We have shown our collections with international public and private organisations and have published books on photography (Welcome to Pyongyang, 2002) and art (Art of the DPRK, 2008).

Films

We continue to produce documentaries on the country as long as they fit the remit of creating a better understanding or questioning of the country. In 1996 we shot our first travel documentary in North Korea. From 2002-2006 together with VMS Productions and the BBC we produced our 3 award-winning documentaries. Our feature film ‘Comrade Kim goes Flying’ premiered at Toronto International Film Festival in 2012 and became the first North Korean film to be shown to a South Korean public audience. We are the foreign coordinator of the Pyongyang International Film Festival which provides one of the few opportunities to show foreign films to a local audience

Publications

Includes Printed in North Korea, which was published in September 2019, following on the success of Koryo’s best-selling 2017 Phaidon book, Made in North Korea. We have also published books on photography (Welcome to Pyongyang, 2002) and art (Art of the DPRK, 2008).

Nicholas Bonner

Nicholas Bonner was born in England and earned his degree in landscape architecture from Leeds Metropolitan, where he also served as lecturer. He first visited North Korea in 1993 with his friend Joshua Green and the two of them set up Koryo Tours and Nick has lived there ever since.

For over two decades he has been returning monthly to DPRK, working with tourism, art projects and other forms of cultural engagement. He has collaborated with Pyongyang artists, commissioned pieces for international exhibitions and advised on art publications such as Art Asia, among others.