North Korea’s state-run media reported today that the Supreme Leader was elected to the nation’s legislature on Sunday. (This was the DPRK’s first parliamentary “election” since before his father and predecessor, Kim Jong Il, passed away in 2011). And guess what? There were no dissenting votes in his home district.
With no one else on the ballot, state media reported Monday that supreme leader Kim Jong Un was not only elected to the highest legislative body in North Korea, he won with the unanimous approval of his district, which had 100% turnout.
North Koreans went to the polls on Sunday to approve the new roster of deputies for the Supreme People's Assembly, the country's legislature. The vote, more a political ritual than an election by Western standards, is generally held once every five years.
Though results for the other seats in the assembly had not yet been announced, North Korea's media quickly reported Kim had won in his district — located on the symbolic Mount Paekdu — without a single dissenting ballot.
Serious question: Why even bother hosting elections in the first place? If virtually everyone is required to participate -- even citizens living overseas -- and there is only one candidate on the ballot in each parliamentary district, what’s the point? To give off the illusion North Koreans have a "choice" in who “represents” them when, in fact, they do not? Please. Fraudulent elections, as a general rule, only engender more negative press from the West than usual.
Nevertheless, the state media spun the election results pretty much as you might expect:
"This is an expression of all the service personnel and people's absolute support and profound trust in supreme leader Kim Jong Un as they single-mindedly remain loyal to him," the state-run Korean Central News Agency said.
The Korean Central News Agency isn’t fooling anyone. After all, if support for Kim Jong Un is so widespread and universal, why do thousands of North Koreans try to escape every year? And why, for that matter, do so many North Korean troops stand locked and loaded at the border making sure they don’t escape?
The penalties for trying to flee the country are severe. But the penalties for not showing up to vote -- or, worse, voting ‘no’ instead of 'yes' on the ballot for their district's pre-approved candidate -- are perhaps even worse.