A Couple of Notes on the North Korean Election

The elected body, the “Supreme People’s Assembly”, rarely meets and has very little actual power. So this entire March 9 election exercise and its lead-up became in part a vehicle for more regime-shaped symbolism (symbol as substance) about how pleased everyone is with Kim-family rule, and the benefits conferred by the socialist system. The fact that Kim Jong-un’s sister emerged for the first time as a named figure under the auspices of the election activity is probably in the long run more significant than the elections themselves.

The Chinese foreign affairs tabloid Huanqiu Shibao (Global Times) had a reporter “on the scene” in Pyongyang. Not that the information was sourced from a conversation she had at the polls (the candidate was there; she pledged to “follow Kim Jong-un if elected, and work hard to make Pyongyang a world-class city [isn’t it already?]“), but the point was also made in that piece, published on March 10, about watching for a kind of “youth movement” in the SPA results. Specifically mentioned was Kim Yong-nam; being 86, it might be time to replace him.

If the SPA is markedly younger, or if Kim Yong-nam is no longer at the helm of the body, then we might be able to see some signs of at least marginal outward change — but this was largely about another post-purge cosmetic opportunity for people to hammer home how much they allegedly love and need Kim Jong-un’s leadership.

DPRK Ballot

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