Voting underway in Seoul, Busan mayoral elections

Voting is underway in mayoral elections of South Korea's two main cities. The races are widely seen as an important precursor to next year's presidential election.

Voting in the by-elections began at 6 a.m. on Wednesday in the capital Seoul and the second-largest city of Busan.

In Seoul, 12 candidates are running. The country's governing Democratic Party is fielding former cabinet minister Park Young-sun, while the largest opposition People Power Party is backing former Seoul mayor Oh Se-hoon.

Contenders from the two parties are also running in Busan.

The country's election committee says voter turnout as of 5 p.m. was 49.7 percent in Seoul and 44.6 percent in Busan.

Both figures are lower than those in mayoral elections three years ago.

Polling places are to close at 8 p.m., after which people in coronavirus quarantine are to cast ballots, with vote-counting starting immediately thereafter.