Not one vote cast against Kim Jong Un in his first election


A picture released by the North Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un casting a ballot at a polling station at the Kim Il-sung University of Politics in Pyongyang, North Korea, 09 March 2014, to elect the Supreme People’s Assembly. It is the first election for the North’s rubber-stamp parliament since Kim took over power in December 2011 after the death of his father Kim Jong-il. The election is held every five years. EPA/KCNA

If Sunday’s vote in North Korea is any indication, supreme leader Kim Jong Un is the most popular politician of all time.

North Korea state media reported Monday that Kim was elected to the Supreme People’s Assembly, the highest legislative body in North Korea, in a vote that had 100 percent turnout. What’s more, not a single ballot was cast against him. It was the young leader’s first election since the 2011 death of his father, Kim Jong Il, and the national turnout topped the nation’s traditional 99 percent showing.

The state-run Korean Central News Agency was pretty pumped about the news: “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.”

In previous elections of this kind, which are more symbolic than political, 687 deputies are also elected to the Supreme People’s Assembly. Only the results of the election involving Kim, which involved his home district of Mount Paekdu, were announced Monday.

For him, turnout was so high that even the infirm, elderly, and North Koreans living abroad were compelled to vote for him, the North Korean news agency says. Indeed, those reports show North Korea was “seething” with “election atmosphere.” “A Korean in China noted he keenly realized the truth that the socialist system represented the genuine life and destiny of the people and their eternal future,” the news agency says.

Ballots in North Korea only have one candidate to choose from for each district. They can, in theory, chose “no” for a candidate — but according to official accounts, everyone usually votes “yes.”

It was a busy day for Kim. In addition to netting 100 percent of the vote, he also attended on Sunday the Kim Il Sung University of Politics, named after his grandfather. There, the news agency reports, Kim was “greatly satisfied” after he observed the university’s “e-library” and reviewed its implementation of something called “Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism.”

Terrence McCoy is a foreign affairs writer at the Washington Post. He served in the U.S. Peace Corps in Cambodia and studied international politics at Columbia University. Follow him on Twitter here.
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