November 15, 2007

Stressful day in Korea for 600,000 kids

You know exams are around the corner when fellow colleagues start taking leave enmasse and attendances at temples and churches start to increase phenomenally. But nothing beats what the South Korean government is doing for their future talents.

Was watching the evening news on the telly earlier when it ran the story of the college entrance exam now taking place in South Korea. The news clip showed images of kids trooping into the examination halls while parents looked on nervously outside.

What's even more interesting is the actions that the government took to 'assist' the South Korean kids. Civil servants are asked to reported for work 1 hour late to reduce traffic. Even the military are avoiding 'loud', read 'live' firing etc., activities near the examination halls.

When the government pulls its weight behind the exams, they way it did in South Korean, you know that the exams must be a big deal over at Korean.

Doing well not only determines the career prospects of the kids, it apparently determines one's marital prospects in the future. Talk about a 'pressure-cooker' society. And I thought we have it bad in Singapore.

Anyway, here's wishing all the exam-takers "행운! (haeng un)", or good luck! Hmmm... "haeng un" sounds deceptively like the Chinese words 好运 (hao yun), which also means "good luck"!

Read on for a news article from Yonhap News Agency on this:

Students take state-run exam for college entrance

SEOUL, Nov. 15 (Yonhap) -- Nearly 600,000 high school
students and graduates took the yearly state-run college entrance exam Thursday,
as government officials reported to work late to reduce traffic for exam takers
and military flights were halted to minimalize noise near exam

Public workers were advised to come to office one hour later than usual to ease traffic
congestion during the early morning rush hour for exam takers.

Police mobilized motorcycles to help transport some late exam takers, and the military halted flight operations and banned shooting drills near the test venues for fear of distracting the students taking an English language listening comprehension test.

"More than 584,000 applicants took the College Scholastic Ability Test at 980 test venues across the nation," a spokesman for the Education Ministry said.

Composed of listening and written tests on a range of subjects including language, mathematics, science, and economics, the one-day exam runs though 6:05 p.m.

Applicants are mostly high school third graders with some high school graduates and college students taking the exam again this year to enter more competitive colleges and universities.

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