By Fareed Zakaria, CNN
Those of you who watched our recent education special saw the exhausting study habits of South Korean students. The culmination of that pressure was last week when almost 700,000 South Korean high school students took the test they had spent all those hours working toward.
It was a wild scene outside test centers as younger kids cheered on the heroic test-takers as they arrived. Police motorcycles even whisked the late ones to school.
But when it came time for the high schoolers to begin the grueling nine-hour exam, silence was the order. Planes were grounded, honking was banned and teachers refrained from wearing squeaky shoes for fear of distracting the students. Relatives prayed outside the school gates for good results.
Why all the fuss? Well, it's widely believed in South Korea that this test determines which college a student will go to, which company they will then work at, the size of their eventual paycheck and even whom they will marry. That's¬†pretty intense pressure.