Suneung: The Judgment Day

Suneung: The Judgment Day

Youngjoo Lee
Youngjoo Lee

This year’s Suneung took place on Nov. 23, delayed a week after the earthquakes in Pohang. The test results are coming out today, on Dec. 12. A Twitter user wrote, displaying a dramatic mixture of different emotions, “F***~~~ The report cards are coming out~~~~~ F*** Suneung~~~~~~ If I get in I’m going to college, if I don’t I’m not going~~~~~”

Suneung, the notoriously competitive college entrance exam, is often a family affair. It’s not just the students who study intensively, in a grueling process that can begin long before high school. 

The families cater to their various needs — this is not only because Suneung, for the hundreds of thousands of students who take it each year, offers only a once-a-year chance to go to college. It’s also because college is often unilaterally perceived as a necessary step to being successful and normal. The perceived stakes are immensely high, and the pressure on the students and their families alike tremendous. 
Nowhere is this pressure more apparent in the temples and churches across South Korea, where families gathered on Suneung day to pray for the successes of their beloved.
Cover image: Students cheering for the seniors on Suneung day. (Source: Republic of Korea via Flickr, CC BY SA-2.0)
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