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N. Korean leader casts ballot in local electionsBy Yonhap
Published : Nov. 27, 2023 - 09:39
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un cast his ballot in local elections held over the weekend to pick new deputies for local assemblies of provinces, cities and counties across the nation, state media reported Monday, with voter turnout recorded at almost 100 percent.
Kim visited a polling station set up in South Hamgyong Province on Sunday and voted for candidates who ran in the elections in the region, according to the official Korean Central News Agency.
North Korea's local elections are held every four years, and the number of seats is determined by the population of each area. But the elections are widely viewed as a formality, as the candidates are hand-picked by the North's ruling Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) and rubber-stamped into office.
The KCNA said Kim met with the candidates and encouraged them to become "genuine representatives and true servants for the people who strive to defend and realize their rights, interests and requirements."
He was accompanied by Premier Kim Tok-hun and key party officials, including his younger sister Kim Yo-jong and Hyon Song-wol, vice director of the propaganda and agitation department, it added.
In a separate dispatch by the KCNA, the voter turnout for Sunday's elections was 99.63 percent. Those who are in foreign countries or working at sea did not take part in the elections.
North Korea has revised an election law in a way that allows two candidates to be recommended in some constituencies for local elections and holds a preliminary election to decide on a final candidate.
The move appeared to be intended to introduce competition into the election system, albeit on a rudimentary level. But Seoul's unification ministry said the North's revision of the election law does not seem to genuinely guarantee people's suffrage.
At polling stations, North Korea set up two separate ballot boxes of different colors -- one for approval and the other for disapproval -- a move that hampers the principle of secret voting as it is easy to see whether people vote for or against, the ministry said.
"This shows the North's election system is far from a democratic electoral system. Rather, the country aims to strengthen its internal grip on people (via elections)," Koo Byoung-sam, spokesperson at the ministry, told a regular press briefing. (Yonhap)
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