Millions of South Koreans flocked to nearly 14,000 polling stations nationwide Tuesday to choose one of 13 candidates vying to become their next leader.
The country’s 19th presidential election was called months ahead of schedule because of impeached former leader Park Geun-hye’s expulsion.
Exit poll data will offer an idea of the result when voting closes at 8 p.m., while the victor will take office this Wednesday without the benefit of the usual weeks-long transition period.
Liberal contender Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party was the clear frontrunner in polls before the election, with experts expecting a swing from Park’s conservative government.
Moon is seen as willing to cooperate with North Korea, having been involved in the last inter-Korean summit in 2007.
The local election watchdog has forecast a turnout of more than 80 percent among the nation’s biggest ever electorate of nearly 42.5 million eligible voters. Over a quarter of the electorate already cast their ballots in early voting last week.