In the last election in 2003, 687 deputies, including Kim, were appointed to the assembly with state media reporting voter turnout close to 100 per cent.

Elections are normally held every five years and one had been due to take place in August 2008.

No reason was given for the delay, although recent months have seen growing international speculation over Kim's health, amid reports he may have suffered a stroke or possibly be dead.

North Korea has repeatedly insisted Kim is alive and well.

But despite reports in state media detailing his activities none has specified exact locations or dates.