Today, across South Korea, 650,000 high school seniors will face the most crucial evaluation of their young lives: the national college entrance examination. And on this day each year, a nation of 48 million holds its collective breath: Grounding airplanes and shushing car horns, noisy vehicular traffic, even loud conversations.
Efforts to ensure fairness are often mind-boggling.
In Seoul this year, nearly 100 domestic flights at nearby Gimpo Airport will be either delayed or canceled so as not to conflict with the exam at surrounding schools, according to the Korea Airports Assn.
Morning commute hours will also be delayed in most large cities so students won’t get tangled in traffic en route to their test sites. Those who do can request a police escort to make it on time.
Even the national stock market opens an hour later, to account for tardy employees.
At each school where the exam is given, a team of police officers patrols the surrounding neighborhood to ensure quiet. That means no roaring motorcycles or unnecessary horn-blowing.