Voters in South Korea are going to polls to elect a new president after a huge corruption scandal brought down the former leader, Park Geun-hye.
Liberal Moon Jae-in is the strong favorite with centrist Ahn Cheol-soo his nearest challenger.
South Korea’s economic issues are a big concern for voters but the election could see a shift in policy towards North Korea.
A record turnout is predicted, with numbers boosted by younger voters, as South Koreans choose from 13 candidates.
Heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula in recent weeks have made the perennial worries over the South’s volatile neighbor a key issue.
Moon Jae-in, of the Democratic Party of Korea, has advocated greater dialogue with North Korea while maintaining pressure and sanctions.
Both Moon Jae-in and Ahn Cheol-soo have urged President Donald Trump to cool his rhetoric towards North Korea after his administration suggested it could take military action over Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
However, Hong Joon-pyo of the conservative governing Liberty Korea Party has attacked Moon Jae-in’s approach, saying last week that the election was a “war of regime choices”.
North Korea state media said it favored a return to an earlier era of communication and co-operation known as the Sunshine policy, seen as an endorsement of Moon Jae-in who was part of the previous South Korean government which promoted that policy.
All the candidates are promising to protect the fragile recovery in the country’s economy – the fourth largest in Asia – and to bring down youth unemployment, which remains stubbornly high.
There have been vows to reform the family-run conglomerates – chaebols – which dominate the domestic economy.
Whoever wins will have to tackle ties with China, which retaliated economically over the deployment of a US missile defense system in South Korea.
All candidates have been promising a break from the past as symbolized by the deeply unpopular Park Geun-hye.