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British Ambassador’s blog tribute to North Korean democracy

As we’ve noted before, the British Foreign Offices’s diplo-blogging experiment has, for the most part, been a resounding success. But all that might be undone by this post by Ambassador to North Korea Peter Hughes on the country’s recent "election," which reads more like one of the Korean Central News Agency‘s floried dispatches. Here’s a ...

As we’ve noted before, the British Foreign Offices’s diplo-blogging experiment has, for the most part, been a resounding success. But all that might be undone by this post by Ambassador to North Korea Peter Hughes on the country’s recent "election," which reads more like one of the Korean Central News Agency‘s floried dispatches. Here’s a sample:

Spring seems to have arrived in Pyongyang, much the same as I suppose it has in Seoul. The weather during the weekend was relatively warm and sunny for the elections of  the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly that took place on Sunday 8 March. There was a very festive atmosphere throughout the city. Many people were walking to or from the polling stations, or thronging the parks to have picnics or just stroll. Most of the ladies were dressed in the colourful traditional hanguk pokshik and the men in their best suits. Outside the central polling stations there were bands playing and people dancing and singing to entertain the queues of voters waiting patiently to select their representatives in the country’s unicameral legislature. The booths selling drinks and snacks were very popular with the crowds and everyone seemed to be having a good time. The list of successful candidates was published on Monday. There was a reported turn-out of over 99% of the voters and all the candidates, including Kim Jong Il, were elected with 100% approval. In a few weeks time the Supreme People’s Assembly will open for business which will include voting for the Chairman of the National Defence Committee (presently Kim Jong Il), and drawing up the budget for the coming financial year.

I don’t mean to lecture the ambassador on the finer points of democratic politics, but 99 percent turnout is generally not considered a good thing. Looks like someone is hankering a slice of Kim’s famous pizza.

As we’ve noted before, the British Foreign Offices’s diplo-blogging experiment has, for the most part, been a resounding success. But all that might be undone by this post by Ambassador to North Korea Peter Hughes on the country’s recent "election," which reads more like one of the Korean Central News Agency‘s floried dispatches. Here’s a sample:

Spring seems to have arrived in Pyongyang, much the same as I suppose it has in Seoul. The weather during the weekend was relatively warm and sunny for the elections of  the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly that took place on Sunday 8 March. There was a very festive atmosphere throughout the city. Many people were walking to or from the polling stations, or thronging the parks to have picnics or just stroll. Most of the ladies were dressed in the colourful traditional hanguk pokshik and the men in their best suits. Outside the central polling stations there were bands playing and people dancing and singing to entertain the queues of voters waiting patiently to select their representatives in the country’s unicameral legislature. The booths selling drinks and snacks were very popular with the crowds and everyone seemed to be having a good time. The list of successful candidates was published on Monday. There was a reported turn-out of over 99% of the voters and all the candidates, including Kim Jong Il, were elected with 100% approval. In a few weeks time the Supreme People’s Assembly will open for business which will include voting for the Chairman of the National Defence Committee (presently Kim Jong Il), and drawing up the budget for the coming financial year.

I don’t mean to lecture the ambassador on the finer points of democratic politics, but 99 percent turnout is generally not considered a good thing. Looks like someone is hankering a slice of Kim’s famous pizza.

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy  Twitter: @joshuakeating

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