Double Happiness: women dance on election day in Pyongyang (Xinhua photo)
Sunday was a day of extraordinary happiness for North Korean women. Not only was it International Women’s Day, it was also election day so they could exercise their right to cast their compulsory vote in favor of a single candidate to represent them in the Supreme People’s Assembly.
A joyous day indeed, and Xinhua’s correspondent in Pyongyang appears to have enthusiastically entered the festive spirit of it all. For some reason, however, Xinhua’s international department let the side down by not issuing an English-language version of this report, so I thought I should remedy the situation and translate it myself.
It’s not entirely clear to me what the reporters’ intentions are in this article. I suspect that they are seeking to satisfy two very different groups of readers in two very different ways: 1) North Korean officials, who hopefully appreciated all the praise given to their system; and 2) Chinese readers, most of whom will have thought it was all utterly absurd. So far, though, I haven’t found anyone who agrees with me on this, so I suppose I’m probably wrong.
Xinhua, Pyongyang, March 8 (Reporters: Gao Haorong and Zhang Binyang) For women in the DPRK, this year’s March 8 is a day of “double blessing” — welcoming their own festival, International Working Women’s Day, and taking part in the vote to elect deputies to the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly.
It goes without saying that they were overjoyed to greet their own festival, but taking part in the election for the Supreme People’s Assembly is a grand occasion that happens only once in five years. Xinhua reporters saw large numbers of people gathered in the open spaces outside two newly decorated polling stations. Among them were silver-haired elderly women, and also exuberant young girls. They wore ethnic costumes of many colors, making them the most beautiful scene at the polling stations.
Any joyful occasion makes the spirit soar. On this day of “double blessing,” Korean women, who are good at singing and dancing, naturally cannot help but sing and dance. Outside the polling station in the 14th sub-district of the 9th constituency in central Pyongyang, many elderly women danced gracefully to the music of a band, and some children around them also danced for joy. Inside the polling station, women queued and, after staff verified their identities, took their ballots and went into the “small room” encircled by white cloth to cast their own sacred vote. Choe Sun Yong of the Kim Chaek University of Technology research institute says there are many women among the candidates in this election for the Supreme People’s Assembly, fully demonstrating that women in the DPRK are a wheel in the revolution [pun not in the original text] and they are masters of the country.
In the DPRK, the fact that women take part in voting for deputies to the Supreme People’s Assembly symbolizes that they are exercising their right to be masters of the nation. The Korean Central News Agency reported on this day that since the promulgation of the Law on Sex Equality in the DPRK 63 years ago, women have had equal rights in all respects. Many women not only become exemplars and leaders in all fields, they are also deputies of people’s assemblies at all levels. In the last Supreme People’s Assembly, women accounted for 20.1% of the deputies.
Kim In Nam, chairperson of the Moranbong District People’s Committee, writes in today’s Minju Joson newspaper that she is especially excited and moved to take part in this election at the beginning of a new revolutionary high tide to build a great and powerful nation. She says: “Through our actual lives, we realize that the state power of the republic is a precious cradle that guarantees women’s dignity, rights and happy lives.” Mun Kyong Ae, a female worker at the Pyongyang Spinning Factory also published an article, saying: “It is precisely because women can exercise our rights equally that we are determined to pledge our lives to defend the political power of the republic. I will vote in favor in order to express my fervent patriotism.”