Early voting begins in S. Korean presidential election

Indo Asian News Service

Seoul, May 4 (IANS) Thousands of South Koreans cast their ballots on Thursday in early voting for the presidential election set to be held next week, officials said.

Over 1 million votes have been cast as of 10.30 a.m., according to the National Election Commission (NEC), with many more expected before the two-day voting period ends at 6 p.m. on Friday, Yonhap News Agency reported.

There is a 12-hour overnight break starting from 6 p.m. on Thursday.

Among early voters were National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun and key officials from all major political parties here.

Over 42.4 million people are eligible to cast ballots in the upcoming election, marking the largest number of voters in the country's history, the NEC said.

All votes cast in advance will be kept sealed with those locked overseas to be brought here for official counting following the end of the presidential election on May 9, the election watchdog added.

Currently, 13 hopefuls are vying for the presidential office after two candidates dropped out of the race.

The latest poll published on Wednesday showed Moon Jae-in of the liberal Democratic Party in the lead with 42.4 percent, followed by two runner-ups -- Ahn Cheol-soo of the centre-left People's Party and Hong Joon-pyo of the former ruling Liberty Korea Party -- who were tied at 18.6 per cent.