Thae Yong Ho is the talk of the town among Pyongyang’s elite

Some elites in Pyongyang reportedly believe that Thae has already been elected to office

Pyongyang’s elite are closely watching former North Korean deputy ambassador to London Thae Yong Ho’s run for political office in South Korea, Daily NK has learned.

News of Thae’s decision to run for office spread quickly through elite circles in Pyongyang, largely because he is considered the most prominent defector in South Korea right now, according to a North Korean source on Feb. 24.

The source predicted that news of Thae’s run for office would spread to ordinary North Koreans by next week.

YEA OR NAY

Thae’s run for political office have both supporters and detractors among North Korea’s elite.

Supporters say that “South Korea is a great country” for allowing a North Korea to run for office.

Supporters have also expressed interest in how Thae’s election to the National Assembly will play out while praising South Korea as a country where anyone “regardless of songbun, family background and class” can develop and express themselves.

Some of North Korea’s elite in Pyongyang, however, have expressed differing views on Thae’s run for office.

They have reportedly argued that Thae’s run for office is a “strategy” to woo North Koreans into believing “fantasies about capitalism” and that Thae is simply a puppet.

AN OPPORTUNITY

Some of Pyongyang’s elite reportedly believe that Thae has already been elected to office, largely due to their misunderstanding about how elections in South Korea work.

North Korea’s election-related laws state that anyone can run for office, but the reality is that only candidates selected by North Korea’s Central Committee are allowed to run.

“Some people here still believe that people running for office are essentially shoo-ins for that position,” the source said.

“[Thae’s run for public office] is an opportunity for North Koreans to learn about how elections in North and South Korea are different, the significance of free and fair elections, and to compare the national assemblies of the two Koreas to see which one represents the interests of the people better,” the source added.

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

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Lee Sang Yong is editor-in-chief of Daily NK and previously spent a number of years working as one of the publication’s foreign correspondents in China. He can be reached at dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.