South Korea Presidential election: Voting begins to replace imp
'South Korean presidential candidate Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party casts his vote'
SEOUL: Tens of millions of South Korean voters started casting their votes on Tuesday to elect one candidate to lead the country for the next five years.
Voting in the country's presidential election began at 6 a.m. local time at 13,964 polling stations throughout the country, Yonhap news agency quoted National Election Commission (NEC) as saying.
The voting will end at 8 p.m. local time, instead of 6 p.m. in previous presidential elections.
The two-hour extension came as the election marked a rare presidential by-election caused by the March 10 ouster of former President Park Geun-hye by a Constitutional Court ruling over a massive corruption scandal that has also led to her arrest and indictment.
Also, unlike in the previous elections, the president-elect will be inaugurated immediately after an official declaration of his or her victory by the NEC in a meeting slated for early Wednesday.
Thirteen candidates are vying for the top elected office, but many believe the election is, in reality, a three-way race between Moon Jae-in of the liberal Democratic Party, Hong Joon-pyo of the conservative Liberty Korea Party and Ahn Cheol-soo of the centre-left People's Party.
The election had been considered tilted in favour of liberal candidates from the very onset as it followed the removal of the former conservative president over corruption allegations.
Hong, the candidate from the former ruling party, however, was seen catching up with his liberal rivals at the last minute.
A total of over 42.4 million people, or 82 per cent of the country's 51 million population, was eligible to vote in the presidential election, marking the largest number of voters in the country's history.
Over 26 per cent or some 11 million have already cast their ballots over a two-day early voting period held last week.