South Korea election: Polls open to choose new president
South Koreans are voting in a presidential election, called early after a huge corruption scandal brought down their former leader.
Liberal Moon Jae-in is the clear front-runner with centrist Ahn Cheol-soo his nearest challenger.
The election is being closely watched at a time of economic uncertainty and heightened tensions with North Korea.
Mr Moon wants to increase contact with the North in contrast to ex-leader Park Geun-hye who cut almost all ties.
Observers are expecting a high turnout at the ballot boxes, with numbers boosted by younger voters, as South Koreans choose from 13 candidates.
Polls close at 20:00 local time (11:00 GMT), with the winner expected to be announced soon after.
All the candidates are promising to protect the fragile recovery in South Korea’s economy – the fourth largest in Asia – and to bring down youth unemployment, which remains stubbornly high.
There are also promises to rein in perceptions of elitism in South Korean political society and reform the family-run conglomerates – chaebols – which dominate the domestic economy.
But heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula in recent weeks have also made the perennial concern of domestic security a key election concern.
Mr Moon, of the Democratic Party of Korea, has advocated greater dialogue with the North while maintaining pressure and sanctions.
He has been critical of the two previous conservative administrations for failing to stop North Korea’s weapons development.
Both he and Mr Ahn have urged US President Donald Trump to cool his rhetoric towards the North after his administration suggested it could take military action over Pyongyang’s weapons programme.
Conservative candidate Hong Joon-pyo of the Liberty Korea Party however has attacked Mr Moon’s approach, saying on Thursday morning that the election was a “war of regime choices”.