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Voting underway in Seoul, Busan mayoral by-elections Updated: 2021-04-07 17:03:55 KST

Voters in South Korea's two biggest cities, Seoul and Busan, have been heading to the polls today to choose the mayors of their cities who will serve the remaining 14 months of the former mayors' four-year terms.
With 8.4 million eligible voters in Seoul and slightly over 2.9 in the southeastern city of Busan polls are still open for the next hour or so, until 8PM, Korea time, as contrary to regular election days, by-elections are NOT designated as holidays.
Our very own Kim Do-yeon is live at a polling station in Seoul.
Doyeon, we have less than an hour left until polls close in the capital as well as in the City of Busan.
What's the turnout, so far?

Conn-young, I've been here since the polls opened at 6 this morning and there has been a steady inflow of voters here at this polling station in central Seoul.
As of 6 PM, voter turnout stood at nearly 52 percent in Seoul and 47 percent in Busan.
That's not as high as the same point in the local elections in 2018 or the 2020 general elections, but remember early voting did hit a record-high for a by-election at 20.5 percent this past weekend.
Another thing to note is that, like you mentioned, most people DO NOT have the day off today, so it is also possible that fewer people could come in to vote during the day.
I can tell you that I AM seeing more people heading to the polling station since 7 pm - mostly those coming to cast their ballots after work.
All in all, more than 12 million people eligible voters today as besides the two mayoral posts, 19 other regional seats are up for grabs.

Doyeon, so another big enough election possibly involving 12 million people IN this pandemic.
South Korea was touted as an exemplary case after successfully carrying out one of the first nationwide elections in the pandemic last year. How strict are anti-virus measures at the polling stations and how confident are those coming to the voting sites about it?

Conn-young, you're right. With this being the second time voting in the pandemic for Seoulites and the people of Busan, they appear to be well-knowledged about what precautions need to be taken and did not seem too concerned about safety measures.

"I think this transcends the threat of COVID-19. My ballot will be a part of electing a new mayor so he or she can start working as soon as possible for the city."

"I'm now a college student, but with classes going online, I've had a lot more time. So I looked into the news and saw that there are some issues on which people really needed to make their voices heard. So, although I know my one vote is small, I think it says a lot."

That's not to say that people are letting their guards down.
Anti-virus measures are strictly in place and people are very mindful of them.
From getting their temperature checked and keeping distance to wearing plastic gloves throughout the voting process - are all well in place and well observed.
We also have on-site election supervisors making sure it never gets too crowded in the polling stations, Conyoung.
Reporter : tkim@arirang.com
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