Acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn on Thursday ordered the election watchdog to "sternly" deal with illegal electioneering as the presidential campaign heats up with the vote just 12 days away.
During a regular Cabinet meeting on pending state affairs, Hwang voiced concerns over intensifying smear campaigns through social media in the lead-up to the May 9 poll.
"As I have stressed multiple times, (I) direct you to make all efforts to ensure a fair and transparent election, and sternly deal with any legal violations or irregularities," the acting president said.
The acting president, in addition, stressed the need to ensure no voters have difficulty obtaining election-related information such as voting procedures.
The forthcoming election was triggered by the March 10 ouster of scandal-hit former President Park Geun-hye.
The latest voter survey, conducted by local pollster Realmeter, puts Moon Jae-in of the liberal Democratic Party at 44.4 percent support, 21.6 percentage points ahead of his nearest rival Ahn Cheol-soo of the center-left People's Party.
During the Cabinet meeting, Hwang also expressed hopes that the operation to search for the missing victims in the salvaged Sewol ferry can pick up the pace. The process has been slow due to piles of waste and other materials blocking the entrances to the vessel.
The 6,825-ton ship sank off the southwestern coast near Jindo on April 16, 2014, leaving 304 passengers dead, with nine of them unaccounted for. The salvaged rusty ship was put into dry dock at a port in Mokpo, some 410 kilometers south of Seoul, earlier this month. (Yonhap)