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South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has suffered a setback in local polls held amid tensions over the sinking of a navy ship in March.
With almost all the votes counted, official results show the opposition Democratic Party (DP) won seven mayoral and governor posts.
Mr Lee's Grand National Party (GNP) won only six posts.
The result is seen as a blow for Mr Lee's tough stance on North Korea, accused of sinking the Cheonan.