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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un enjoys 100% poll win with his sister by his side
Agence France Presse - March 11, 2014
Kim Yo-jong, believed to be 26 years old, accompanied her older brother to a polling station on Sunday during the country's state-managed parliamentary election.
It was not her first appearance. She was shown on state television in 2011, tearfully standing next to Mr Kim as they attended the funeral of their father and former ruler Kim Jong-il. Since then she has occasionally been seen accompanying her brother on his "field guidance trips".
Sunday's outing was different as she was, for the first time, officially listed by her name and as a "senior official" attending the voting function along with several top party and army luminaries.
State TV footage showed Ms Kim walking closely behind her brother and casting her vote. Her official position was not detailed, but she is believed to be the events director in Mr Kim's Secretariat Office.
Every vote cast on Sunday in Mr Kim's constituency was for the man who can now add MP to his many titles that include Supreme Commander of the armed forces and chairman of the powerful National Defence Commission.
"All the voters of the constituency took part in voting and 100 per cent of them voted for Kim Jong-un," North Korea's official KCNA news agency said. "This is an expression of... people's absolute support and profound trust in supreme leader Kim Jong-un as they single-mindedly remain loyal to him, holding him in high esteem."
Sunday's ballot was an election in name only. Each of the nearly 700 constituencies had only one state-sanctioned candidate, ensuring a foregone conclusion in every case. Voting was mandatory and state media said all registered voters across the country – except for those based overseas – took part.
Elections to the Supreme People's Assembly are held every five years, and this was the first under Mr Kim's leadership. He took over after the death of his father in December 2011. Mr Kim stood as an uncontested candidate in constituency number 111, Mount Paektu.
In Washington, when asked for her reaction to the North Korean election result, US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: "I will simply say that is not a model for democracy around the world."
It is believed that Kim Yo-jong is being groomed to play a supporting role to her brother, just as her aunt Kim Kyong-hui did for Mr Kim's father. Kim Kyong-hui was an enormously powerful and influential figure who was given the rank of a four-star general. Together with her husband, Jang Song-thaek, she was seen as the power behind Kim Jong-un's throne, until the young leader had Mr Jang purged and executed last year.
Ahn Chan-il, head of the Seoul-based World Institute for North Korea Studies, said the Kim dynasty's third generation was consolidating its power.
"Kim Jong-un and Kim Yo-jong will work in a similar way as their father and Kim Kyong-hui did in securing the future of the Kim dynasty," Dr Ahn said. "And Kim Kyong-hui will eventually leave official life as part of the power shift within the family."
Kim Kyong-hui, 67, has barely been seen in recent years, with reports that she was seriously ill and had sought hospital treatment overseas.