Exit polls forecast close race between Park and MoonPark Geun-hye, the presidential candidate of the ruling conservative Saenuri Party, is expected to win this year's presidential race by a slim margin Wednesday by securing approximately 50.1 percent of the vote, the nation's three major broadcasters' joint exit poll forecast, though other surveys predicted an extremely tight race or a possible win for opposition candidate Moon Jae-in.
The joint exit poll by KBS, MBC, SBS predicted that Park, the daughter of late former President Park Chung-hee, would win a majority, defeating Moon, the standard bearer for the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP), who is expected to secure 48.9 percent of the vote.
The 1.2 percentage point edge by the 60-year-old candidate Park, however, is within the 1.6 percentage point margin of error in the poll conducted on 86,000 people nationwide.
A separate exit poll by cable broadcaster JTBC also predicted a narrow win for Park, as she would secure 49.6 percent against Moon's 49.4 percent.
But another cable broadcaster YTN's exit poll produced a different result, forecasting that Moon would win by obtaining 49.7 percent to 53.5 percent, with Park securing 46.1 percent to 49.9 percent.
Due to the conflicting forecasts by the various exit polls, the winner is unlikely to be confirmed before midnight, election experts said.
Voter turnout in Wednesday's presidential election was estimated at 74.8 percent, up sharply from five years ago as of 6 p.m., reflecting the high interest South Koreans have in the close race, according to the state election watchdog.
About 30.3 million out of a total of 40.5 million eligible voters have cast their ballots since voting began at 6 a.m. at 13,542 polling stations nationwide, the National Election Commission (NEC) said.
The polls closed at 6 p.m. [Yonhap]