SEOUL, About 3.8 million Koreans, or 8.77 percent of eligible voters, cast ballots Friday, the first of two days of early voting for the June 13 local elections, which are seen as an indicator of voter sentiment toward liberal President Moon Jae-in.

The advance voting was conducted at 3,512 polling stations nationwide from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., according to the National Election Commission (NEC). The number of eligible voters for the elections is 42.9 million.

Up for grabs are 4,016 local administrative, legislative and educational posts, including 17 metropolitan mayors and provincial governors. The by-elections will be also held to fill 12 vacant parliamentary seats.

As of 6 p.m., turnout for the local elections was 8.77 percent, according to the election watchdog.

It was higher than 4.75 percent and 5.45 percent recorded on the first day of early voting for the 2014 local elections and 2016 general elections, respectively.

But it was lower than 11.7 percent logged during advance voting for the presidential election in May 2017.

The advance voting system was introduced for the by-elections in April 2013.

A poll released by the NEC showed Thursday that 76.5 percent of those surveyed said this week that they will definitely vote in the upcoming elections, up from 70.9 percent recorded two weeks earlier.

It said that 30.3 percent of those who intend to vote said they will cast ballots during the early voting.

"Early voting has taken root, not as just a backup tool but as one with almost the same weight as election day voting," said Yoon Hee-woong, an official at polling agency Opinion Live. "The final turnout could be higher than that for the 2014 local elections.

Source: Yonhap News Agency