“Elections” in North Korea

While I am sure most of you are watching the LDP get trounced by the DPJ in today’s upper house election (just as I predicted, of course), I just wanted to let you know that this isn’t the only election happening today (thanks to ZAKZAK):

Elections in North Korea, too? A Sunday election with no losers and 99.8% voter turnout.

On July 29, an election will take place in North Korea. However, with a voter turnout of 99.8%, just one candidate for each election district, and no writing implements to vote with, it would be better described as a “ceremony” than an election.

North Korea uses single-member election districts similar to Japan’s, but there is no proportional representation because of the de facto dominance by the Worker’s Party of Korea. Citizens can vote from age 17, and in this election provincial, city, and county representatives will be selected. On August 3, an election will be held to select members of the Supreme People’s Assembly (NK’s parliament), in which even dictator Kim Jong Il (age 65) will run as a candidate. Kim has won a consecutive 5 terms in office starting in 1982 (but of course, none of the “candidates” ever actually lose in this election).

An unnamed private researcher explains: “The election form says ‘I vote affirmatively to make X a representative’ and if the voter agrees, he/she simply places the vote in the box. The rules state that you are to place an X on the election form if you disagree, but they do not provide any writing implements at the election office.”

There are supposedly more than 600 members of the SPA, but the election districts are listed by number and do not specify which region the candidate is supposed to represent. Neither are voters informed who the candidates are before the election, so it makes no difference to the voters who is in office.

Kim’s election district changes each time: for example, in 1998 he ran in the “Korean People’s Army 666th Electoral District.”

Kazuo Miyazuka, a professor at Yamanashi Gakuin University who is familiar with NK’s internal situation, notes “Since 100% of the voters vote affirmatively, this is not an election at all. It is a chance to test whether the people will faithfully participate and is used as a way to dominate the people.”

11 thoughts on ““Elections” in North Korea”

  1. I can’t link the goddamn page,but check the SEGA’s 資格検定DS page and check their CM that is on the air now.Hilarious.

  2. Hmm. Noone really wants to vote for the party, but it really is the only option….

    Sounds like the DPJ in 2007!

  3. BTW, you’d think that KJI would be smart enough not to run in the 666th district. It doesn’t exactly endear him to most people familiar with Biblical symbolism, whether you’re actually a believer or not.

  4. Really is off topic.But any of you have seen the HK movie “Election”(directed by Johnny To)?I’ve got bored in the middle of all the CG’s filling TV screens and I started watching the DVD that I’ve rented from Tsutaya last night….
    Good movie,it was.Can’t help but thinking that LDP should have dealt with Ozawa as the way what triad boss had done to Tony Leung Ka Fei back in ’92…..

  5. I’ve heard Election was good and I think I have a copy around, but I haven’t seen it yet. I’ll try and get to it this week some time.

  6. A synthesis of off topic and on topic issues, but has anyone seen a film called “Friends of Kim”. It did the indy festival circuit a while ago and I’ve been wondering whether I should order it from Europe. Its the story of a Korean Friendship Assn trip to NK. The KFA is a bunch of North Korean supporters from around the world, but I suspect that many of them have joined for the cheap trip that few others experience. The film looks pretty good. Anybody have any comments.

  7. Looks interesting.Might get some copy,while I feel the Dutch crew is trying to make the tour as weirder than the norm.I mean focusing to a Spaniard North Korean friend?
    There is a small description on Japanese friend of NK in Sekikawa Natuso’s book called 退屈な迷宮(aka北朝鮮とはなんだったのか)written in the mid 90’s.There “the friends” are mostly a highschool teachers and civic activist,Sekikawa was also visited by the ex-Japanese Red Army highjackers exiled in Pyongyang who are starved with conversation in Japanese.

    Also in American Koreanologist Bruce Cummings’s”War and Television、(日本語訳)戦争とテレビ、みすず書房” has description of a African man coming to gaijin bar in Pyongyang, to get North Korean girl friend for a night.and Australian National Univ’s Russian scholar Andrei Lankov’s(日本語訳)平壌の我慢強い市民たち、三一書房 also has description of mid 80’s expat life(mostly exchange students from communist blocs and diplomatic envoys) in Pyongyang through the eye of a Soviet exchange student.Lankov,unlike Cummings has no fantasy over NK and cynical.I was surprised to read it in early 90’s before Soviet Union collapse for there is no such thing called solidarity of socialism(especially coming from leftwing publisher三一、which name was taken from March 1st uprising in colonial Korea)

    Another criticism came from communist bloc was a Polish doc called 金正日のパレード fillmed in the late 80’s shot buy the crew of Polish National TV visiting in the tour of Polish Korean freindship.They dubbed no critical comment over the picture,yet everything they wanted to tell you can be detected by watching the doc.The crew was later awarded from NK government.
    Lastly I reccomend you all “Dear Pyongyang”,Story of a family of former high class Chongyron member whose family is divided between Osaka and Pyongyang.Although one of my ex-Chongyron member was angry over doc,for making it too sentimental.But I enjoyed it.

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