Dozens of students in South Korea are seeking compensation from the government after a crucial college admission examination ended 90 seconds before it was meant to.
At least 39 students filed a lawsuit with the Seoul Central District Court on Tuesday asking for 20m won (£12,000) each to compensate for the cost of a year’s studying to retake the exam.
The incident took place during this year’s Suneung, an eight-hour-long marathon test. It’s perhaps the most important exam in the education-obsessed country, where careers, social standings, and even marriage prospects greatly depend on which university a person attends.
Results for the exam were declared on 8 December.
The lawsuit states that the bell notifying the end of the first session during the 16 November exam at Kyungdong high school rang 90 seconds earlier than scheduled.
Authorities said the teacher in charge accidentally clicked the alarm and the school, after realising the mistake, returned the test papers to the students during lunchtime.
However, students said they were only allowed to mark blank columns left on the paper and not change the already marked answers.
Law firm Myungjin said the error affected the rest of the students’ exams as they could not fully engage in the following tests. Some gave up on the exam and returned home, the Yonhap news agency reported.
The education authorities did not offer any apology or explanations, the lawyers alleged, adding that the invigilator used their own device instead of a state-designated clock.
In April, a court in Seoul awarded 7m won (£4,200) to pupils who sued the state and the city administration after the bell rang three minutes earlier during the exam.
In 2018, a student sued her teacher for failing to show up to class for seven months in 2015.
Testifying before the court this May, Siti Nafirah Siman said: “I hope that what I am doing now will make some teachers realise that they should not neglect and look down on the ‘lower’ class, and give them the same level of education as the ‘upper’ class, that’s all.”