Pyongyang, Mar 10: Millions of North Korean voters, including leader Kim Jong Un, went to the polls on Sunday to elect roughly 700 members to the national legislature.
In typical North Korean style, the vote was more of an endorsement than a competitive contest — voters were presented with just one state-sanctioned candidate per seat. They cast their ballots to show their approval or, very rarely, disapproval.
The elections, held every five years, are for the entire Supreme People’s Assembly, which, on paper at least, is the highest organ of power in North Korea.
Its delegates come from all over the country and all walks of life. The candidates are selected by the ruling Korean Workers’ Party and a couple of other smaller coalition parties that have seats in the assembly but exercise little independent power.
Kim, fresh off his trip to Hanoi for his second summit with President Donald Trump, is the most prominent candidate of all. Though his power rests in his complete control over the ruling party, government and military, Kim is running for re-election in his Pyongyang district.
Turnout is generally reported at 99 percent or higher. That should of course be taken with a grain of salt, but voting is generally regarded as a duty and responsibility and simply staying at home is not an option.
“I’m very proud to be voting for the first time,” said 19-year-old university student Kim Ju Gyong.
Under North Korean law, citizens can vote from the age of 17.
Voting begins at around 10 am depending on the location and continues until late evening. Voters show election officials their ID cards to receive their ballot, which they cast in a private booth. If they approve, they simply put the ballot in the box. If they don’t approve, they cross the name out.
Photos and profiles of the candidates are posted before each election.