South Korea students sue after important exam ended 90 seconds early

Korea's Suneung exams take 8 hours to complete and are so important to academic and career success that the country grinds to a halt to ensure students aren't interrupted. But at one site in Seoul the ending bell rang early, and 39 students are suing for 20 million won (~$15,400) each, the approximate cost to stay back a year and retake the gruelling test.

The students said they were so upset that they could not focus on the rest of the exam, Yonhap news agency reports. Some reportedly gave up and returned home. Their lawyer Kim Woo-suk told local media that education authorities had not apologised. Public broadcaster KBS quoted officials who said the supervisor in charge of the specific test centre had misread the time.This is not the first time students have sued over a bell rung too early. In April, a court in Seoul awarded 7 million won ($5,250; £4,200) to students who claimed they were disadvantaged at the 2021 Suneung exam because their bell rang about two minutes earlier.

There's something fascinating about a single kējǔ-style test being a technocratic fulcrum of everyone's lives only for sloppy timekeeping to become such a regular bug that you wonder if it's a hidden feature of the system. I remember as a kid, in Britain, the invigilators always used to wear squeaky boots and walk without rhythm. Trivial malice everywhere lurking.