It’s called the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. But any real notions of democracy end with the name. North Koreans headed to the polls at the weekend to cast their ballots in elections for local representatives on provincial, city, and county People’s Assemblies. Citizens were not asked to make a choice — the results had already been decided by Kim Jong Un’s central government. Voters were handed ballot papers but didn’t mark them. They would have instead deposited them in a ballot box, signifying their support for the pre-approved candidates. Defector Kim Kwang-jin explained that their most important job is to show up.
That’s because voting is compulsory for everyone over the age of 17. Failing to take advantage of the opportunity to show support for the government is tantamount to treason. “It is regarded as political offence, so it is taken more seriously than economic crimes,” said Kim. “It means that, politically, someone is against the regime.”
As such, state media usually reports a near 100% turnout, with about 100% of the electorate voting in support of the pre-selected candidates.