N. Korean ballot is first under Kim

PYONGYANG, North Korea — North Koreans cast ballots Sunday to approve a new national legislature, the first vote for the Supreme People’s Assembly in five years and the first under leader Kim Jong Un.

Instead of choosing whom they support, voters are given the choice of a yes or no for the single candidate on their ballot. Virtually all choose yes.

The last elections were held in March 2009, when 687 deputies were elected to the assembly. It is the most powerful body under North Korea’s constitution but in reality has little power.


Despite the lack of doubt about the outcome, Sunday’s voting was held in a holiday atmosphere, with national flags hoisted along the streets, women decked out in colorful traditional clothing, and dancing events held in parks, schools, and riversides.

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Voting in authoritarian North Korea is considered to be obligatory. Outside observers say that this makes elections in North Korea an opportunity for the authorities to check up on the population and tighten control.

Hyon Byong Chol, the chairman of a preparatory committee for one of the subdistricts in the election, called the vote ‘‘meaningful’’ because it is the first under Kim.