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2020 college entrance exam starts under cold wave Updated: 2019-11-14 05:02:29 KST

South Korea comes to a standstill for an hour or two on this Thursday as more than 540-thousand students head to exam centers to take the exam of their lives.
It's the day of 'Suneung', South Korea's annual national college entrance exam.
Police escorts, flights grounded, and businesses shut,all so that the hundreds of thousands of students can take the once-in-a-lifetime test as comfortably as possible.
Our Choi Jeong-yoon is live on site at one of the test centers.
Jeong-yoon, it's chilly morning and still pretty early but I can see that you're surrounded by students already?

Hi, Connyoung. I am outside Seoul High School, one of the hundreds of test sites where ‘Suneung’ will be administered across South Korea.
It's very cold out here. In fact it's the coldest Suneung day in five years.
But the cheers of juniors to support the senior test takers are warming up this little area we are in.
As the exam is considered once in a life time challenge, friends, teachers and parents are with the students to give their encouragement.

As you mentioned earlier, some 548-thousand students will be taking the College Scholastic Ability Test today at 1,185 test sites nationwide.
The number of test takers is down more than 40 thousand from last year, due to an overall reduction in the school age population.

The exams begin at 8:40 AM, Korea time, and will last up to nine hours.
The students will be taking Korean language, mathematics, English, Korean history and subjects of their choices in either social or natural science.
Some students are also selectively taking another foreign language or Chinese characters.

Jeong-yoon, this is kind of support and pressure on college entrance exam takers are something pretty unique unseen anywhere else but Korea. Is that based on the belief that the college you get to attend determines how your life will pan out here?

To say the whole academic life of a Korean student leads up to this one day would not be an exaggeration.
In Korea, Suneung is a symbol finalizing 12 years of elementary, middle and high school education as the result determines which university they enter next year.
This, as there's a strong belief in Korean society that the college you get to attend shapes one’s future.
So nationwide measures are taken to support the test takers.
During the morning rush hour, workers in the public sector and some private firms will start work an hour later than usual.
The country’s stock markets will open and close an hour later as well.
Along with additional subway trains and buses, police officers will offer motorcycle rides to students who are running late.
So those who are in Korea, no need to panic with polices moving around.
In the afternoon, airplanes will be prohibited from taking off or landing during the 25 minute English listening test that starts at 1:10 PM.
That’s all I have for now, but I'll be back with more updates for our next newscast at 10AM. Back to you, Connyoung.
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