In 1990, expenses for divinized propaganda amounted to around 19% of the North Korean budget. In 2004, according to the report of the Institute, the amounts allocated were doubled to reach nearly 38.5%.
The rise in spending to enhance the cult of the Kim family has served to finance the construction of around 30,000 statues of Kim il Sung (father) and Kim Jong-il (son), sculptures in rock, gym exhibitions, education programmes and everything that could boost the propaganda drive.
The main reason behind the increase in propaganda investments appears to be the need to counter the creeping influence of the modern world. "It isn't quite realized in the West how much of a threat the penetration of ideas is. The regime of Kim Jong-il sees it as a social problem that could bring down the state," says Brian Myers, a North Korean expert at
Since the late 1990s, a subtle influx of entirely new products and ideas – hence destabilizing for the regime – has been entering from the borders with
Smuggling appears to be on the increase in defiance of tough penalties imposed by the regime: for example, those caught listening to broadcasts from abroad risk being sentenced to forced labour.