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North Korea acknowledges votes against selected candidates for first time since 1956

The North Korean government reported votes for opposition candidates in local elections for the first time in decades. 

Supreme leader Kim Jong Un’s regime said Tuesday that just under 1% of the voting population cast a ballot against selected candidates. 

It marks the first time the government has acknowledged votes against the Workers’ Party since 1956. 

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Voters arrive at a polling station in Pyongyang as North Korea holds elections for local government representatives. The ruling Workers’ Party reported votes in opposition to selected candidates for the first time since 1956. (Kim Won Jin/AFP via Getty Images)

State-operated media outlet Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported 0.09% of voters submitted ballots against the party’s selected candidates for provincial assembly seats. 

KCNA also reported that 0.13% of voters voted against the ruling party in the city and county people’s assemblies.

Voter turnout across the communist hermit nation was reported at 99.63%.

It was the first election since the nation implemented reforms in August of this year allowing multiple candidates.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, attends a meeting of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party in Pyongyang. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

“The electoral reforms may serve dual purposes: projecting an image of a forward-looking North Korea to the outside world while concurrently consolidating internal governance structures,” the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada said in a statement.

The organization continued, “The introduction of multiple candidates in North Korea’s local elections, while offering more choice on the surface, does not fundamentally alter the power dynamics within the ruling party.”

Election data reported by the ruling Workers’ Party is considered utterly unreliable as supreme leader Kim Jong Un’s government maintains total control over the population and violently suppresses opposition.

North Korea election voting

A North Korean citizen casts a ballot at a polling station in Pyongyang during the country’s election for local parliamentary seats. (Kim Won Jin/AFP via Getty Images)

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The Kim family has fostered a secular religion around their dynasty since the country’s government was formed in 1948. 

The nation operates under a uniquely manipulated form of communist political philosophy known as “juche” that places all functional power in the hands of a “supreme leader.”

State-controlled media and government communications bolster the Kim family’s status as virtual demigods, attributing them with unparalleled intelligence and a wide variety of skills.

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