South Koreans are voting for a new president, following a year of political upheaval that included massive peaceful protests and the impeachment and arrest of former President Park Geun-hye.
Polling stations opened Tuesday at 6 a.m. and a winner is expected to be announced before the end of the night.
Leading the pre-election polls by a large margin is Liberal Democratic Party of Korea candidate Moon Jae-in, with about 20 percentage points over his two main rivals. If Moon wins, it will be the first time in a decade for liberals to take power following conservative rule.
Moon, who is a human rights lawyer, has promised to reduce government corruption, increase spending to create jobs, and raise taxes on the wealthy. On the international front, Moon wants more engagement with North Korea, including reopening the jointly run Kaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea, which was closed following Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test last year.
His closest rivals are conservative Liberty Korea Party candidate Hong Joon-pyo and the People’s Party candidate Ahn Cheol-soo, who also is a liberal.