North Korea's state media did not mention leader Kim Jong-un in announcing a list of deputies newly elected to the communist state's rubber-stamp parliament on Tuesday, raising speculation about the reason for his exclusion.
Kim's exclusion from the list of 687 new deputies, if confirmed, means he didn't run because elections in North Korea are a formality as all candidates are elected with 100 percent of the vote. State media did not mention Kim's candidate registration before or after the elections.
It was unclear why Kim decided not to run, but regardless of the reason, the decision doesn't appear to suggest that his grip on power is slipping.
Kim was last elected to the assembly in March 2014 when the first parliamentary elections were held since he came to power. He ran for a seat in the Mount Paektu Constituency No. 111, a mountain known to be the sacred birthplace of his late father.
Kim's younger sister, Yo-jong, however, was among the newly elected, according to Pyongyang's state media. Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho and Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui, who led nuclear talks with the United States, were elected as deputies for the first time.
Kim Chang-son, known as chief of staff to the North Korean leader, was also on the list.
The Korean Central News Agency reported that 99.99 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the Sunday elections and all new deputies were elected with 100 percent of the vote.
Elections in North Korea are widely viewed as a formality but the Sunday's elections drew keen attention as they could provide a glimpse into any possible power shift under the young leader.
The elections also came after Kim returned home empty-handed from his second summit with US President Donald Trump in Hanoi late last month. (Yonhap)