South Korean presidential election too close to call, exit polls show

National Election Commission officials sort out ballots for counting in the presidential election in Seoul, South Korea
AP/Lee Jin-man

South Korea’s presidential election was too close to call on Wednesday, according to exit polls.

Yoon Suk-yeol of the conservative People Power Party and Lee Jae-myung of the Democratic Party were neck and neck as votes were counted after Wednesday’s election.

In one exit poll conducted by three top broadcasters, Yoon received 48.4 percent support while Lee trailed with 47.8 percent, according to Reuters. In another poll coordinated by cable network JTBC, Lee was ahead of Yoon by 0.7 percent, 48.4 percent to 47.7 percent.

Sim Sang-jung of the social-democrat Justice Party brought in 2.5 percent of the vote, according to exit polls cited by The New York Times.

Roughly 77 percent of the 44 million eligible voters in South Korea voted in Wednesday’s election, according to Reuters. The winner will succeed sitting President Moon Joe-in, who is barred from running for a second term by the country’s constitution.

The race comes at a crucial time for South Korea, as the country grapples with a surge in COVID-19 cases, increasing inequality, spiking home prices and heightened tensions between the U.S. and China, according to Reuters.

This year’s race was dubbed the “unlikable election,” as both candidates dealt with scandals and gaffes and traded jabs, according to Reuters.

Yoon previously served as prosecutor general in South Korea, and Lee was most recently governor of the Gyeonggi Province, which is the South Korean state with the largest population.

Tags Election South Korea
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