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During the Suneung Exam of Korean High School Students, Even Planes Stop Flying

Locally known as “Suneung”, this exam is crucial for anyone looking for a place at a good university. The pressure is enormous, and the city is moving slowly so as not to disturb the high school students.

A long silence fell in South Korea on Thursday when more than half a million students took a major university entrance exam, and authorities took significant steps to ensure its smooth success. Locally known as ‘Suneung’, this nine-hour marathon exam is crucial for anyone looking for a place at one of the best universities in the country, but it is also synonymous with high social status, careers rewards and even increases marriage prospects.

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The enormous pressure on young students by South Korea’s ultra – competitive education system has often been criticized as causing some of the highest rates of depression and suicide among adolescents in the world. “I want to tell my daughter that I am proud of her for working so hard to this day, and that this exam, regardless of the outcome, does not define her as a person.“, Told AFP Koh Min-soon, the mother of a candidate who wants to reduce the stress on her nipples in the wake of this 2021 edition. The Covid-19 pandemic has put extra pressure on students, parents and authorities. .

During the fortnight before the exam, the students had to follow the courses online. According to the Ministry of Education, more than 509,000 students are taking the exam this year. At Ewha Girls High School in downtown Seoul, a number of applicants approached with their parents and appeared nervous. Outside of school, some people were seen praying and others took selfies with their friends and family. It was mandatory to wear a mask for all students, who also had to take a Covid test before taking their place behind their desk, at 8:40 a.m. South Korea saw a spike in cases ahead of the exam, recording nearly 3,300 infections Thursday, the highest number of daily cases ever.

Stores open later

Even those who tested positive for the virus, about 70 people, had to take the test, in designated spaces separated from the rest of the students, primarily in medical centers. To limit any disruption, the authorities took terrible measures: administrations, banks, and the stock exchange opened an hour later than usual to facilitate traffic and allow students to arrive in time for the exam.

Flights were suspended during the review

All take-offs and landings at airports nationwide have been suspended for 35 minutes during an English hearing test. And all flying aircraft had to maintain altitudes above 3,000 meters. According to the Department of Transportation, 79 flights were rescheduled as a result of the review. Police cars and motorcycles were available in school areas for students stuck in traffic or running late. “It’s a very important day for the candidates, and last year was very difficult for them,” police told AFP before the exam. “We just want to do what we can to show our support.”

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