From the BK to the SK
 
I live in an area that is pretty desolate, but is near the industrial area of the city. There are loud, noisy trucks that drive down my block all day long, their engines roaring as they wait impatiently at the light on my corner. It isn't loud enough to keep me from sleeping, but it is loud enough where when it's quiet, it is creepy.
This morning, I woke up to pure silence. There wasn't a single car driving down my street - not a single truck loading crying pigs or cows or some other items for transport racing down my street. There was nothing racing down my street.
Why? Because today was D-Day. Today was the Korean SAT.
Korean high school students take the SAT once a year. First, they take the test as second graders in high school. If they do poorly, they can take the test one last chance. There isn't a three strikes and you're out rule in Korea. They give two chances, and those two chances heavily influence the rest of their lives.
Cops patrol the streets of Korea on the morning of the SAT, and everything else is on delay or canceled all together. My school was on a one hour delay so as not to cause any traffic for those high school students who were anxiously making their way to their testing sites. We thought there was pressure in the U.S. to receive a high SAT score - well, you've never lived in Korea.
The test is 9 hours long. Planes are not allowed to take off or land during certain testing hours, and, like I said, unnecessary traffic is eliminated by forcing the rest of the city to go on a delay for work or school. Students' parents flood temples to pray for their sons and daughters to receive high scores, as well as adhere to superstitions like, "Do not feed your children slimy seaweed soup before the SAT exam - their knowledge will slip away." My students were telling me that their sisters who took the SAT today received lots of money, rice cakes and chocolates last night as a final good luck before as the hours dwindled and the test drew closer.
One of my co-teachers has a daughter who is a senior in high school, hoping to go to art school in Seoul. Today was her last chance, and so yesterday I bought her a little good luck gift. My co-teacher appreciated it, and it felt good to do something nice for someone I realistically didn't know.
The world stops for the Korean SAT, and right now the students are going over the answers, which are released by a newspaper, finding out their fate for what they think is the rest of their lives. 
 





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