Kim wins. That is the unsurprising outcome of North Korea’s first legislative elections under the leadership of young dictator Kim Jong Un. State media report that nearly 100% of eligible North Koreans voted in Sunday’s poll, and 100% of them cast votes in favor of the status quo. This is only partly as ridiculous as it sounds: voting is mandatory and there is one option on the ballot. Indeed, when North Korea votes, it votes. When exactly 100% of eligible North Korean set out to cast votes 100% in favor of predetermined politicians, they were carried forth on “billows of emotion and happiness,” state media reported. And nowhere were they happier — or more billowy, presumably — that in Kim’s district, Mount Paektu, the Korean peninsula’s highest peak. The group that voted at the storied site were so moved by the exercise that they spontaneously burst into song, state media said.
It is easy to chuckle at the thought of the country’s khaki-clad officials being overcome by the joy of casting a ballot. (If only the U.S. primaries could be such fun.) But as much as the elections are a sham, they are a sham worth studying. This stranger-than-fiction display gives us a better sense of how the country is run.
The once-every-five-year vote is an important exercise in political propaganda. Take Kim’s district. Mount Paektu is North Korea’s holy land. It was where his grandfather Kim Il Sung and a small group of his associates are said to have repelled the Japanese. It was also where Kim Il Sung’s son and successor, Kim Jong Il, is said to have been born. Kim Jong Un’s right to rule is based on his link to the “Paektu bloodline” — and to the mythology of the mountain itself.
Full Article: North Korea Elections: A Sham Worth Studying | TIME.com.