North Korean state media reports South Korean election results

North Korean state media on Friday reported the results of this week’s presidential election in South Korea, surprising citizens not used to hearing political news from the South so soon after the new leader was chosen, the residents told RFA.

“Yoon Suk Yeol, a candidate of the conservative opposition ‘People Power Party’, won by a narrow margin in the 20th ‘presidential election’ held in south Korea on March 9,” the state-run Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Friday on the English-language version of its website.

A Korean version similarly emphasized the name of the party and the word “president.”

The brief report did not mention Yoon’s 0.8 percent margin of victory or his opponent, Lee Jae-myung of the ruling Democratic Party.

The website of the Rodong Sinmun newspaper carried the same Korean-language report.

The citizens did not expect to see news in their local media so soon after the election, a resident of the northwestern province of North Pyongan told RFA’s Korean Service Friday.

“Authorities are usually reluctant to publicize information about South Korea’s democratic, free election system,” said the source, who requested anonymity for security reasons.

“Usually when a conservative party candidate is elected, the name of the winner is not mentioned, or it is reported late. That is why today’s Rodong Sinmun report… is regarded as unusual,” she said.

While some residents in the northeastern province of North Hamgyong reacted to the news with indifference, others were jealous, a resident there, who requested anonymity to speak freely, told RFA.

“They could not hide their envy at the democratic system in South Korea in which the Supreme Leader is directly elected by the people,” said the second source, using the term by which North Koreans call their generational, dynastic leaders.

“Retired officials and college students who confirmed the results of the 20th presidential election in South Korea had a bitter look on their faces. We also have elections here in North Korea. However, there is only one candidate, pre-selected by the party, and we have to vote for the only candidate.”

Yoon will be sworn in as the South Korean president on May 10, 2022. Analysts predict that his North Korea strategy will be more hawkish than his predecessor Moon Jae-in, who prioritized engagement with the North.

Translated by Leejin Jun. Written in English by Eugene Whong.



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