With just two weeks before the big day, despair and sarcasm are growing in South Korea and other Asian countries over an ugly US election race fraught with sexism, misogyny, and provocative rhetoric.
Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state vying to become the first female US president, maintains a clear lead against real estate mogul Donald Trump in most battleground states according to polls.
Trump insists the race is not over but even his camp admits the Republican candidate is behind.
Outside the United States, the 2016 race initially had attracted widespread attention induced by Trump's provocative candidacy that broke the traditional election module, but now it's not a matter of interest anymore.
In South Korea, initial interest gave way to disappointment and criticism with many political watchers agreeing that the race has been degraded to a cheap soap opera due to sexism, email scandals and pathetic personal attacks that aroused concerns about the direction and future of US democracy.
"The outcome of the US election usually affects politics, economy, society of the United States and the whole world, but this year's election is different," Kim Young-rae, an ex-president of Dongduk Women's University, said in a newspaper commentary.
"The world is not looking at the election the way it used to with the hearts of interest because it's full of sexism, email scandals, and negative images. It's like watching mud wrestling. The US democracy has fallen to a low-quality soap opera," he said.
Kim said American voters would suffer from the aftereffects of the race and debate regardless of who wins.
"Sexist speeches, an email scandal, a tax evasion and suspicions of illegally accumulated wealth which were brought out at the debate confirms it will be the worst (election) in history, full of personal hatred and distrust," Park Young-chul, an economist and former World Bank analyst, said in another commentary.
South Korean newspapers have been largely reluctant to side clearly with any candidate, focusing on how the US election will have a political and economic impact on the Korean peninsula, but some have carried critical editorials casting doubt about the nature of US democracy.
"This year's presidential debate is the tragedy of democracy, wrote Lee Seung-hyun, a Segye Ilbo editorial writer. "It could even become a serious threat to the overall liberal democracy."
US democracy appears to be falling apart, Lee said. "To make things worse, Trump refused to say whether he will accept the results of the election. Things are surreal than ever."
Hangyeorye blamed Trump for turning the presidential race into "a low-grade show" and tainting the image of his nation, suggesting other countries should take a lesson.
"Donald Trump is the reason why the US presidential election has become such a low-grade show," the Seoul-based liberal daily said in an editorial, accusing Trump of caring nothing about the image of his country.
"Trump surely is a huge obstacle to democracy. The Americans should think better to decide whether they should carry the situation on like this. Other countries need to take the current situation as a lesson."
Online communities have been flooded with sarcastic comments."We should question the morals of the Americans if Trump wins." wrote Poor, a user on South Kora's online community Clien.
Trump's provocative campaign has never been over in the closing stretch of the race, describing himself as the voice of the American everyman and urging voters to reject the political elite.
Polls showed many young voters are coming over to Clinton, prompted by Trump's overheated rhetoric, but some pundits in South Korea insist it's not necessarily because they like Clinton.
Many American voters may have to vote for a candidate who is less evil, Nam Soo-kyung, a human rights lawyer, said on News Min, an online media outlet.
"Clinton's only advantage is that she is not Trump. If Clinton becomes the president, Trump is the best contributor. Although people do not favor Clinton, they would vote for her to hold back Trump," Nam said.
Kim Kwang-ki, a social science professor at Kyoungpook National University, said the Trump syndrome should not be ignored as it reflects the will of many ordinary American voters discontent with the political elite like Clinton.
"Americans who have tasted despair induced by previous politicians have been betting their last hope. That's all because they think Trump is fulfilling their needs," Kim said.
The professor and some other critics shared the opinion of Lara Weber, a member of the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board, that the impact may be more polarizing than unifying regardless of who wins.
"She will be the first female president of the United States, but Clinton will govern a deeply fractured nation, including millions of Americans who voted for Trump -- and implicitly endorsed, or tolerated his sexist words and behavior," Weber said.
Aju news Park Sae-jin and Lim Chang-won