77.2% voter turnout, highest in 20 years

People cast their votes at a polling station during the presidential elections in Seoul, on May 9, 2017.
People cast their votes at a polling station during the presidential elections in Seoul, on May 9, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL • From K-pop idols donning caps and face masks to ajummas ("aunties") in windbreakers, South Koreans cast their votes for their next president at 13,964 polling stations across the country yesterday.

Some of the stars who voted included members of South Korean boy group VIXX and girl group Rainbow, who put up post-voting photos on Instagram, The Korean Herald reported.

Photos of ballot-stamped hands were trending on social media yesterday as the country's celebrities encouraged fans to vote. Voting is not compulsory in South Korea.

After voting, front runner Moon Jae In from the liberal Democratic Party and his wife Kim Jung Sook went hiking near their home in north-west Seoul. Mr Hong Joon Pyo, nominee of the conservative Liberty Korea Party affiliated with impeached president Park Geun Hye, visited his father's grave in Changryeong, south-east of Seoul.

The National Election Commission said 77.2 per cent of all eligible voters cast their ballots in yesterday's election, Yonhap news agency reported. It marked the highest voter turnout in a presidential election over the past two decades. The last presidential election in 2012 had a turnout rate of 75.8 per cent.


Nearly 42.48 million people, or 82 per cent of the country's population of 51 million, are eligible to vote in the presidential election, marking the largest number of voters in the country's history.

South Koreans staying up to find out who their new president was were likely to have done so as they tucked into some fried chicken, going by a light-hearted survey, The Korea Herald reported.

Of the 502 who took part in the survey by pollster Realmeter last Saturday, 34.7 per cent said they wanted fried chicken, followed by 9.2 per cent who voted for pork feet, and 8.4 per cent for roasted pork belly.

The survey found that the more politically progressive the respondent, the more likely he went for fried chicken.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 10, 2017, with the headline '77.2% voter turnout, highest in 20 years'. Print Edition | Subscribe