The only news coming out of North Korea that is hardly ever shocking are the country's "election" results.
Pushing the terminology of democracy to its very limit, North Korea's parliament "re-elected" Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un as the head of the country's military body, Agence France Press reports on Wednesday. The announcement of Kim's victory was made by North Korean state media, which added that "all the deputies and participants in the session broke into stormy cheers of 'hurrah!', extending the highest glory and warmest congratulations to him."
The New York Times explains that this week's vote effectively rubber-stamps Kim's leadership of the National Defense Commission, the top seat of power in the isolated nation.
North Korea's parliament, the Supreme People's Assembly, is itself the product of not-so-democratic elections. North Koreans voted for the assembly's deputies last month, but each candidate stood unopposed.
In any case the body has little power, meeting about once a year. "To the best of my knowledge, not a single SPA member has ever voted against a bill or motion introduced by the government," Andrei Lankov, a professor at Kookmin University in South Korea, told the Associated Press.
The rare parliamentary session is instead regarded as a formality that allows Kim to bring in new loyalists. According to the Wall Street Journal, two top officials -- premier Pak Pong Ju and the ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam -- had angered Kim and were slated for removal during this parliamentary session, however news of their fate was scant on Wednesday.
Last December, Kim notoriously had his own uncle, Jang Song-thaek, executed for treason and demoted his uncle's former staff. Jang had served as vice-chair of the National Defense Commission and was seen as the nation's second-most-powerful figure.
Perhaps the shadow of the recent mass purge encouraged North Korea's deputies to shout "hurrah" just a little louder this year.