by Mark B. Suh
Since its proclamation in 1948 the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK, hereafter North Korea) has been under communist rule. From the beginning, regular parliamentary elections were held. Yet, non-competitive, their major aim—with an average of 99.9% turnout and a 100% yes-vote—was to provide the totalitarian regime of the 'Great Leader' Kim Il-Sung with an aura of legitimacy. Not even after Kim's death in 1994 and the formal transfer of power to his son Kim Jong-Il in 1998 has there been any move toward political liberalization until today.
The DPRK was established in 1948 in the Soviet Occupation Zone in the northern part of the Korean peninsula. After entering into Korea in August 1945 the Soviet forces had launched a so-called People's Democratic Revolution intending to create a replica of the Stalinist communist system. They installed a young Korean nationalist, Kim Il-Sung, as head of the main executive organ, the Provisional People's Committee. In February 1946, the agrarian sector was reshaped, and the industries and infrastructure were nationalized. In November of that year elections were held to the local and provincial People's Committees. Before, Kim Il-Sung had organized the Democratic National Unity Front, a coalition of various political parties and social organizations intended to fabricate an appearance of political unity among the populace. In truth, however, the United Front was—like in other communist countries—under the strict control of the Korean Workers' Party (KWP). Hence, there were no contesting parties or programs in these elections, in which the turnout was allegedly 99.6% of the registered voters.
The first country-wide election to the national Parliament (Supreme People's Assembly, SPA; Choe Ko In Min Hoe Ui), held in August 1948, was also non-competitive. Purportedly, 98.5 percent of the votes were cast in favor of the candidates selected by the KWP. There were a few other parties, but they existed only for cosmetic purposes and were