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New year brings policy changes, including stricter driver's license test Updated: 2017-01-06 19:13:16 KST

The list of policy changes for 2017 ranges from the practical to the personal and includes everything from education to the environment.
On the practical side, is the driver's license exam.
Drivers in Korea have to pass three tests to get a license: a written test, a road test and a driving course that tests the driver's ability to handle the basic operations of the vehicle.

"I got my driver's license over two years ago and although I don't have a car, I drive quite often. Let's see if I can get through the more stringent driving course and pass."

Drivers must now be able to stop on a hill without having the car roll backward.
But the hardest part, where many people fail, is perpendicular parking.
Drivers must back the car into a three-meter space within two minutes without going out of bounds.

Before the test changed, people only had to drive straight for 50 meters and make an emergency stop.
The pass rate then was over 90-percent, but now it's down to 30-percent.

The National Police Agency says the new test reflects the actual problems drivers face in Korea to better prepare them for the real world.

"Korea has one of the highest road accident rates in the OECD, and there has been criticism that it's too easy to get a license in Korea. So by making the tests harder, we hope to have better prepared drivers out on the roads."

There are also 242 other changes either in effect or soon-to-take effect.
For instance, schools for students with disabilities now have to meet higher facility standards, and diesel cars registered before 2005 with no fine dust reduction devices are now prohibited in Seoul.
A great number of changes have also been made in the social welfare sector to tackle the low birth rate and aging population, including greater financial support for single parents.
But in order for all of these changes to be effective, experts note that civic participation is key.

"People should think about how they can support the government's plans, so that not only do they get to enjoy the benefits, they can also contribute to society."

Lee Ji-won, Arirang News.
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