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Published : 2017-04-20 14:52
Updated : 2017-04-20 17:23

A local startup is offering prizes to randomly selected voters who cast their ballots in the May 9 presidential election to encourage voter participation.

Turnout varies greatly from election to election, and about a fifth of South Koreans remain uncertain whether they will vote on May 9.

In an unusual attempt to boost participation, Yoon Byung-joo and his colleagues created voteforkorea.org -- a nonprofit website that will reward three randomly selected voters.

An image of a website opened by a local startup to encourage people to vote

The system, which according to its creators is a “campaign to encourage people to participate in the election,” requires voters to post photographs of their hands stamped with the official election stamp after voting on May 9. Participants are also required to provide their email addresses. Three people will be given monetary rewards from donations the company receives until the day of the election.

“At first, my colleagues and I had little interest in politics because of our busy work,” Yoon said.

“But then we’ve witnessed months of candlelight vigils on the streets that eventually led to the impeachment of former President Park Geun-hye.”

Yoon said his team saw the possibility of change and decided to use their talents as web developers and designers “to make the society a better place.”

The act of providing money to voters as a means of encouragement is not against the law, the election watchdog confirmed.

Apart from operating expenses to maintain the website, all proceeds go to the winners, the startup explained on its website. It is not mandatory to donate in order to take part in the event.

The first prize winner could receive up to 5 million won ($4,380) depending on the volume of donations.

The second and third prizes could be up to 2 million won and 1 million won.

The winners will be announced on May 9 at 9 p.m., through live broadcasts on Facebook.

As of Thursday, 59 people had donated 748,500 won to the event.

By Bak Se-hwan (sh@heraldcorp.com)