09 December 2009

Australia rejects visa applications by North Korean propaganda artists

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The Australian Government has rejected the Australian Visa applications of five North Korean artists because it believes their studio is a propaganda tool of Pyongyang.

The five North Korean artists from the Mansudae Art Studio in Pyongyang had applied for an Australian Visa after being invited to attend a rare exhibition of their work in Queensland and discuss their paintings.

Australian Immigration said Australia's visa ban on North Korean nationals is part of the Government's response to North Korea's missile and nuclear weapons programmes, and that the works clearly constitute propaganda aimed at glorifying and supporting the North Korean regime.

Some of Mansudae Art Studio’s approximately 1,000 artists devote their time completely to painting portraits of Kim Il Sung, the founder of the extreme communist state, but also  to works of  Korean scenes and landscapes.

Nick Bonner, a Beijing-based British businessman who helped curate the exhibition, said that the works were non-political and the exhibition organisers had hoped an exception would be made for the artists, who could have brought a greater understanding of North Korea.

“I don’t know if anyone from the Australian government has seen the exhibition,” he said. “We have to respect the wishes of the Government on this. But we are very disappointed.”

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people lodge their Australian Visa applications with the Australian Embassy.  

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