South Korea came to a grinding halt on Thursday as 650,700 high school seniors prepared to take the most important exam of their lives: the college entry exam.
Securing a high grade on your College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT) practically guarantees access to one of Korea's top three universities, and a job with the civil service or one of South Korea's chaebols - business conglomerates - Samsung, Hyundai and Daewoo.
Trading on South Korea's stock market was halted for an hour, opening at 10am, instead of 9am, while planes were prevented from taking off or landing for 40 minutes and the military stopped conducting drills, to reduce noise as students took their exams at over 1,250 test centers, according to media reports.
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Meanwhile anxious parents have been piling into local temples to pray for their child's success for the past week.
Jaden Lim, a Korea University graduate, told CNBC that performing well on your college entry exam served as a "ticket for life."
"It's a life changing thing… Parents spend a lot of money on good education in high school and on extra tuition to get their child into one of the top three universities," he said.
"If you don't get into one of these top three, it makes life much harder. It's much, much harder to get a good job," he said.
The top three universities in South Korea are known as the SKY universities, an acronym devised from the first three letters of their names, referring to Seoul National University, Korea University and Yonsei University. Seoul National is considered the most prestigious.
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Lim said he remembers the preparation for the exams being a highly stressful time.
"It's very, very stressful. You prepare for three years prior to the exam. Studying is the most important thing in your life and you are awake till early hours of morning," he added.