UN Allows Censorship by North Korea of Art Exhibit, Then Covers It Up

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive, video here

UNITED NATIONS, August 4 — An art exhibit that opened in the UN Delegates Entrance on Friday night promised to have four paintings by North Korean artists, without the approval of their government, set for further sanctions the next day. Draft resolution here. But when Inner City Press attended the show, all four paintings were gone and pages 49 through 52 had been ripped out of the show program it picked up.

The co-host with Vanuatu of the exhibition, who was quoted in the July 31 New York Post that “the initiative is under the table — very low key,” told Inner City Press exclusively on August 4 that the four paintings had been removed and that at some later date a single approved work would be submitted by the government of North Korea — the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in UNese.

Photo at exhibit in UN, Aug 4, 2017, © MR Lee, ICP

The recent history of art shows in the UN is full of controversy. The Macau-based businessman Ng Lap Seng, convicted on July 27 of six counts involving bribery of the UN, funded a one-man show that was deemed improper by a subsequent UN audit put online by Inner City Press, here. (The official who allowed that show without vetting, Cristina Gallach, later evicted Inner City Press from the UN, in which it remains restricted).

At the August 4 event, complete with red and white wine and lamp chops, former US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power’s spokesman Kurtis Cooper was present, although it was not clear in what capacity. Periscope video here. UN Security maintained a perimeter around the event, and UN staff managed and provided the sound. As such, the UN oversaw censorship, now as then. And this as a US-sponsored resolution to impose further sanctions on North Korea is set for a vote on August 5 at 3 pm, as cravenly described by an anonymous “Security Council diplomat” whom the New York Times and Reuters left unnamed “according to protocol,” as the New York Times put it. This is how the UN works — or doesn’t.