Yoon has suffered from low approval ratings for months

The election comes nearly two years after conservative President Yoon Suk Yeol won the 2022 presidential election defeating Lee Jae-myung of the Democratic Party by 0.73% – the slimmest margin in South Korean history.

South Korea has a powerful presidential system, checked and balanced by the assembly which can pass or stop bills.

Yoon has a separate five-year term and is not up for election this time, but the vote is seen as a referendum on the president and his bitter rival Lee.

Yoon has suffered from low approval ratings for months and will further lose momentum if his People Power Party (PPP) performs poorly in the election. The parliament is currently dominated by the DP which holds 142 out of 297 seats, and allies with smaller opposition parties to hold the majority.

"With the opposition-led parliament, it has been hard to make a policy push or achievement over the last two years. Without change during the rest of his term, it would be extremely hard to do his job," said Lee Jun-han, professor of political science at Incheon National University.

Early voting on two days last week reached a turnout of 31.28%, a record high for a legislative election, the National Election Commission said.

According to a poll conducted by KBS and Hankook Research between March 30 and April 2, four in 10 respondents said they would vote for the DP, while 33% said they would back PPP.

In a joint survey released on Thursday by four pollsters, however, 39% of respondents said they would vote for the PPP and 37% for the DP.

The two major parties have said dozens of regions are too close to call and new polls are prohibited in South Korea in the last six days before the election.

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