For unclear reasons, North Korea increased its international publicity about Sunday`s election of the Supreme People`s Assembly, the Communist state`s titular legislature. The official Korean Central News Agency busily reported the progress of voting in various parts of the country with detailed figures about voter turnouts - such as 74 percent of total eligible voters casting their ballots by noon Sunday and 92 percent by 2 p.m. - and the impressive final outcome of nearly total victory of party-nominated candidates.
An "improvement" has been noticed in the televised scenes of voting. Previous elections had used a white box and a black box to divide votes in favor or against the single candidate. This time the voters had to go to a booth, and those against had to cross out the name on the ballot before putting it into a single box. A supporter is saved the chore and has just to drop the ballot paper into the box.
North Korean authorities must have perceived that the outside world had some interest in their parliamentary election - held half a year behind schedule due probably to the ill health of Kim Jong-il - because of the rumored candidacy of Kim`s third son, Jong-un. The 26-year-old man`s entry into the North`s parliament was taken as being the first step in the process of grooming Jong-un as the next supreme leader. His father was also elected to the People`s Assembly.
But a more likely reason for the kind publicity about such primitive voting in the 21st century is Pyongyang`s attempt to demonstrate a strong internal unity. It is aware of the worldwide condemnation of the regime`s plan to launch a long-range ballistic missile, against international opinion and in breach of a U.N. resolution. The country-wide circus the DPRK calls a parliamentary election, however, only confirmed the abnormality of the regime, which unfortunately possesses a few nuclear bombs and rockets that can fly thousands of miles.