At this time of the year, Korean students take the College Scholastic Ability Test, called 'Suneung' in Korean.
On Thursday morning, it what is the coldest Suneung in five years, nearly 550-thousand students sat at their once-in-a-lifetime college entrance exams at 1,185 test sites nationwide.
The number of test takers this year is down more than 40-thousand from last year, due to an overall drop in the school age population.
The exams consist of Korean language, mathematics, English, Korean history and subjects of the students' choice in either social or natural science.
Some students can selectively take another foreign language or Chinese characters.
"In Korea, Suneung is a symbol finalizing 12 years of elementary, middle and high school educationas the result determines which university they enter next year."
To say the whole academic life of a Korean student leads up to this one day would not be an exaggeration.
This, as there's a strong belief in Korean society that the college you attend shapes one’s future.
As the exam is considered a once in a lifetime challenge, friends, teachers and parents came to the test sites to give their encouragement.
"My son prepared for years to take this test. Some days not going to sleep until two in the morning. I hope he gets a good result so that he can go to the college he wants."
"I came early this morning to support our seniors. I wish them good luck after all their years of studying."
Nationwide measures are being taken to support the test takers as well.
During the morning rush hour, workers in the public sector and some private firms started work an hour later than usual.
The country’s stock markets has opened and will close an hour later as well.
Along with additional subway trains and buses, police officers offered motorcycle rides to students who are running late.
"The best drivers have gathered to manage the streets near the test sites and give rides to the test takers who came to the wrong school."
In the afternoon, airplanes are prohibited from taking off or landing during the 25 minute English listening test.
Choi Jeong-yoon, Arirang News.