The Straits Times
Published on Dec 19, 2012

South Koreans vote in presidential election


SEOUL (AFP) - South Koreans went to the polls on Wednesday to choose a new president in a close and potentially historic election that could result in Asia's fourth-largest economy getting its first female leader.

Voters face a clear choice between the ruling conservative party candidate Ms Park Geun Hye and her liberal rival from the main opposition party, Mr Moon Jae In, with opinion polls unable to separate the two.

The eventual occupant of the presidential Blue House will face numerous challenges, including a belligerent North Korea, a slowing economy and soaring welfare costs in one of the world's most rapidly ageing societies.

Polling booths opened at 6.00am (5.00am, Singapore time) and were scheduled to close at 6.00pm (5.00pm, Singapore time)with a national holiday declared to allow maximum turnout among the 40 million-plus registered voters.