Korea’s presidential election is set to take place next Tuesday, but some people are already casting their votes in a round of early voting today and tomorrow. Let’s connect with our Kwon Jang-ho, who’s at an early voting station set up at Korea’s main gateway, Incheon International Airport. How has the voting been going so far, Jang-ho? Good morning, Mark. The polls opened at 6 a.m. this morning… and over the last four hours…
Hundreds of people here at Incheon Airport have already cast their ballots… and hundreds more are waiting in line to do the same. This is one of the 35-hundred stations set up around the country, though that is only a quarter of the number that will be open on election day next Tuesday. The stations will be open today and tomorrow from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and people can vote at any location — people are not limited to their own districts.
All you need is your national ID card and you are ready to go. Now, this is the first time early voting has been allowed for a presidential election, although it has been used for parlimentary and regional elections since 2013. Early signs suggest that early voter turnout will surpass that for last year’s parliamentary elections, which was 12-percent. Yes, in fact, we are getting reports that the turnout is currently double what it was during the same period for that election. Is there a particular reason for the high turnout this time around? Well, let’s take this place, for example. Turnout is very high here, with the wait time currently at about one hour, even though the polling station is two times bigger than it was for the last election. Now, one of the reasons for the expansion is because tomorrow is Children’s Day,… a national holiday here in Korea,… and there are many people who are taking advantage of the long weekend and going away on vacation — and they might not be back in time for election day on Tuesday.
But even if that’s not the case, there might be any number of reasons that someone might want to vote early — particularly for those who have already made up their minds about who they want to vote for. I’ve spoken to a few people here to see how they felt about the process. “We’re on our way overseas, so it’s really fortunate that early voting has been set up. The line is long and we’ve waited a long time, but I am so happy and proud that it brings a tear to my eye.” “I’ve thought about my choice a lot, but I was always planning to vote early, so I’m happy with my choice and I don’t think I will regret it.” Of course there are many people still out there who remain undecided, and the candidates will be making their last push over the next five days to win them over. Back to you, Mark. .
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