Three negotiating political parties will be on the ballot paper when Koreans enter polling stations on April 13th.
It will mark the first time since the mid-1990s that more than two will be in the running.
They are the ruling Saenuri Party, which holds a majority 146 seats in the 300-seat National Assembly, the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea, with 102,… and the minor opposition People's Party, which was recently bestowed the status of a negotiating bloc, with 21 seats.
Korea saw its last multi-party election in 1996 when four parties went head-to-head.
That's also when the opposition blocs stopped the then-ruling New Korea Party, led by former late President Kim Young-sam, from securing a majority.
But this year's race isn't expected to have a similar outcome.
"The in-fighting within the parties during the candidate nomination process, especially within the Saenuri Party and the Minjoo Party of Korea, caused a rift between supporters of the individual parties, but I don't expect voters to switch allegiances."
The nomination feud in the ruling party revolved around lawmakers loyal to President Park Geun-hye and those NOT in her faction,… like Yoo Seung-min, who left the party on Wednesday to run as an independent.
The turmoil was not limited to the ruling party though.
The in-fighting between the faction loyal to the late President Roh Moo-hyun and those not allied with Roh put a strain on the main opposition Minjoo Party.
The party is being run by interim leader Kim Chong-in,… who stepped up after pro-Roh member Moon Jae-in resigned as chairman under pressure from lawmakers unhappy with his leadership.
The minor opposition People’s Party lost a key member of its leadership, election committee chair Kim Han-gil, after a conflict with party founder and co-chair Ahn Cheol-soo about whether to embrace the Minjoo Party's proposal to join forces to win the election.
"Experts say this year's election should be one to watch, as a number of factors, like the delayed electoral map and the hotly contested nomination process, have spiced things up.
One thing is for sure though -- the result will be a good indicator of how the parties' presidential candidates will do in the BIG one next year.
Shin Se-min, Arirang News."