Asia

South Koreans go to the polls in parliamentary election

  • Kim Chong In, a chairman of the main opposition party, the Minjoo Party of Korea, raises his hands to supporters during a campaign rally, ahead of the April 13 parliamentary election in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, April 12, 2016. Voting will be held at about 13,837 polling stations at all over the nation for 300 seats of the new National Assembly. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

    Kim Chong In, a chairman of the main opposition party, the Minjoo Party of Korea, raises his hands to supporters during a campaign rally, ahead of the April 13 parliamentary election in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, April 12, 2016. Voting will be held at about 13,837 polling stations at all over the nation for 300 seats of the new National Assembly. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)  (The Associated Press)

  • People pass by election posters of candidates running for the upcoming parliamentary election in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, April 12, 2016. The nation goes to the polls on April 13 to elect members to the 300-seat parliament for a four-year term. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

    People pass by election posters of candidates running for the upcoming parliamentary election in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, April 12, 2016. The nation goes to the polls on April 13 to elect members to the 300-seat parliament for a four-year term. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)  (The Associated Press)

  • A local resident casts her ballot for parliamentary elections at a polling station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, April 13, 2016. South Koreans on Wednesday voted in the parliamentary election that many predict will hand President Park Geun-hye's conservative party a decisive win, despite frustrations over a sluggish economy. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

    A local resident casts her ballot for parliamentary elections at a polling station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, April 13, 2016. South Koreans on Wednesday voted in the parliamentary election that many predict will hand President Park Geun-hye's conservative party a decisive win, despite frustrations over a sluggish economy. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)  (The Associated Press)

South Koreans are voting in a parliamentary election that many predict will hand President Park Geun-hye's conservative party a decisive win, despite frustrations over a sluggish economy.

If Wednesday's vote allows the ruling Saenuri Party to comfortably regain its majority over a divided opposition, as pollsters predict, it raises expectations the party will take the presidency in 2017, after Park's single term expires.

Criticism of Park's economic policies amid high unemployment and household debt has taken a back seat to national security issues following North Korea's recent nuclear test and long-range rocket launch.

Hostility between the rival Koreas in election years has often been seen as helping the conservatives by allowing them to highlight their hard-line approach against the North.