S. Korea falls silent for col­lege en­trance exam

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

SEOUL: South Korea fell silent yes­ter­day with heavy trucks banned and busi­nesses open­ing late as more than 600,000 stu­dents sat for the high-stakes an­nual col­lege en­trance exam which could de­fine their fu­ture in the ul­tra­com­pet­i­tive coun­try.

Suc­cess in the exam – which teenage South Kore­ans spend years prepar­ing for – means a place in one of the elite col­leges seen as key to fu­ture ca­reer and even mar­riage prospects.

To clear the roads for the 606,000 stu­dents to en­sure they ar­rive on time, gov­ern­ment of­fices, ma­jor busi­nesses and even Seoul’s stock mar­ket opened an hour later than usual at 10am (9am in Malaysia).

Trans­port au­thor­i­ties ban all air­port land­ings and take-offs for a 30-minute pe­riod in the early af­ter­noon to co­in­cide with the main lan­guage lis­ten­ing test.

Work at many con­struc­tion sites was sus­pended and large trucks banned from the roads near the test venues.

The exam, which is be­ing taken at 1,183 venues na­tion­wide at about 9am, will end in the evening.

TV news chan­nels showed ner­vous­look­ing stu­dents walk­ing into the test venues af­ter tear­ful hugs with par­ents, as hun­dreds of younger stu­dents cheered on their se­nior class­mates.

With so much at stake, thou­sands of par­ents have flocked to tem­ples and churches to pray, with monks and pas­tors hold­ing spe­cial ses­sions for stu­dents.

The pres­sure to score well in the exam has been blamed for teenage de­pres­sion and sui­cide rates that are among the high­est in the world. – AFP

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