At the end of 2011 the world witnessed the succession of Kim Jong-Un, youngest son of recently deceased Kim Jong-Il, as dictator of North Korea. This ascension to power confronted the people of North Korea with a fait accompli. Public participation in the transition of leadership was restricted to the expression of grief at the loss of Kim Jong-Il, and then the rejoicing at the immediate advancement of their new Supreme Leader.
However, while on an insignificant scale, elections do happen in North Korea. Polls are held generally every five years. At national level, North Koreans elect a legislature - the Supreme Peopleâ€˜s Assembly. Additionally, people elect representatives to city, county, and provincial people's assemblies. The term "election", though, is misleading
when it comes to North Koreaâ€˜s political system. Candidates for office must be a member of the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland which is a coalition of the countryâ€˜s three political parties. Before elections, each party may nominate candidates for office; the Democratic Front then selects a single nominee for each political post, presents this list to the voters, who then have the choice of either voting for, or against, each candidate. What this means is that the people, themselves, do not choose representatives and are restricted to merely confirming candidates chosen by the unelected Democratic Front. Official figures usually count voter turn-out and approval of candidates as roughly 100 percent, suggesting an actual limited choice in the polling booth.
Political participation and pluralism also have a distinct North Korean touch - besides the all-powerful Workerâ€˜s Party of Korea (WPK), two other political parties exist who are bound by law to follow the WPKâ€˜s political agenda, therefore differing in name only. Individual political participation is forced by the state as a sign of respect to the Supreme Leader, and is therefore mandatory. The refusal to participate in certain political activities is perceived as a lack of support for the government and, in turn, is heavily punished.