A long and draining day for Korean high school seniors and other test takers has ended.
On Thursday, nearly 550-thousand students took this year's College Scholastic Ability Test, called 'Suneung' in Korean.
This year, the number of test takers is down more than 40-thousand from last year, due to an overall drop in the school age population.
They took tests on Korean language, mathematics, English, Korean history and subjects of their choosing in either social or natural science.
"After nine hours of exhausting exams, students are now leaving the test sites. Some look relieved, some look tired. But the immense stress of having 12 years of studying come down to one day of tests… is now finally over."
Friends and family who had been waiting outside the test centers welcomed them with big, warm hugs.
"I am more nervous than my son who took the test. I want to cheer him up with a nice dinner."
To say the whole academic life of a Korean student leads up to this one day would not be an exaggeration.
In Korea, there's a strong belief in society that the college you attend shapes one’s future, which makes Suneung so important as the result determines which university students enter next year.
"I feel free and easy after finishing the exam I've been preparing for my whole life."
"The test was harder than I expected. I feel like it's not over as now I have to wait for the results."
To relieve the test-takers' anxiety, junior students came at the break of dawn to the test sites and greeted their seniors.
Nationwide measures were 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 opened and closed an hour later as well.
Along with additional subway trains and buses, police officers offered motorcycle rides to students who were running late.
Flights were also prohibited from taking off or landing during the 25 minute English listening test.
The education ministry said this year's test focused on basic elements in the high school curriculum to relieve students' stress.
The results will be out in early December, and they'll be submitted when applying for universities.
Choi Jeong-yoon, Arirang News.