Yoo Ah In Cheers On Students Taking the College Entrance Exam, Has Sweet Chats with Them

With the 2017 national college entrance exam being held on November 23, Yoo Ah In has taken to social media to cheer on students.


Infamous for being extremely stressful due to great pressure to perform well, the whole nation is aware of the exam day. Suneung, or the College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT) always brings South Korea to a halt. Every year the country comes to a halt on the day of the exams, for it is the most important day in most South Koreans’ lives. The single set of multiple-choice tests that students take that day determines their future. Those who score well can enter one of Korea’s best universities, which has traditionally guaranteed them a job-for-life as a high-flying bureaucrat or desk warrior at a chaebol (conglomerate). Those who score poorly are doomed to attend a lesser university, or no university at all. They will then have to join a less prestigious firm and, since switching employers is frowned upon, may be stuck there for the rest of their lives. Ticking a few wrong boxes, then, may mean that they are permanently locked out of the upper tier of Korean society.

“Most teachers emphasize that if we failed Suneung, the rest of our lives would be failure, because the test is the first (and last) step to our successful lives,” said Sina Kim, a 25-year-old currently looking for a job. The exam is seen as “the final goal and final determinant of our lives. We thought that if we successfully finish the test, then the bright future would automatically follow.”

“This single exam will determine your life, basically. We study for this exam from the moment we enter grade school. That’s 12 years of studying and doing well in Suneung being the end goal. The day I became a senior in high school, I wrote ‘365 days till D-Day’ on my calendar and started counting down the days,” said 19 year-old Lee Yeon-soo, who took the exam two years ago. “The fact that your parents and teachers are cheering for you puts you under more pressure. You feel like you have to do well so you don’t disappoint them.”

The pressure’s on hundreds of thousands of students in South Korea – as they sit for an exam that could determine their personal and professional futures. The students have prepared for the all-important college entrance test, often with years of study and long nights in afterschool programmes designed to improve their results. Schoolmates, teachers and relatives gathered in front of test venues early in the morning to cheer on the test-takers with hugs, chants of motivational slogans to the beat of drums and placards with messages of encouragement.

More than 590,000 students were expected to take the exam this year, which stretches over nine hours and includes sections on mathematics, social or natural sciences, Korean, English, and a second foreign language, according to the education ministry. Authorities take the grueling test very seriously, barring commercial flights from taking off or landing during the English oral section to minimize noise, and opening the stock market and banks an hour later to reduce traffic congestion. Police cars are even dispatched to pick up some students and ensure they reach exam halls on time.

“Because flights don’t take off during the listening test, and the work hours are changed so there’s no traffic on the road when we go to school, it feels like the entire country is changing its schedule for this exam. That in itself is huge pressure. Most students do worse on the actual exam than the practice ones because there is so much pressure. Even students who did well on the practice tests will do badly on the day because of the nerves involved,” said Lee Yeon-soo. Read what the students have to go through while preparing for CSAT and sitting through it: here


Before Yoo Ah In posted his cheering message in instagram, he shared an article related to the SAT system in his Facebook. The title is, “When I left university, I continued to worry about the way of life”.

Basically, the article tells a story about woman activist Kim Ye Seul who withdrew from Korea University (Korea University ranks fourth in the Top Korean Universities ranking). Obviously, Yoo Ah In admires her and her decision to choose her own path of life. Kim Ye Seul (30 year-old) was a junior at the College of Business Administration at Korea University. In 2010, she declared her withdrawal by pinning three chapters of her essays on the campus bulletin board, which caused a small ripple in the Korean college education society.

In one of her passages she said, “This university has turned its name to a broker/dealer. This is the reality of college in this era… From now on, I refuse to go to college, and choose a human path without being regarded as a useful commodity”. And then, the students who supported her opinion created a fancafe to cheer him. Soon after, the “Second Kim’s Declaration” came up from a student in Seoul National University.

Seven years later, Kim Ye Seul, a high school graduate from a secular point of view, is working as the secretary of the social movement group called “Culture Sharing”. One of the group’s program is to set up a Palestinian refugee camp in the Middle East. She still writes book, and just published the latest one: “The Candlelight Revolution Winter 2016 and Spring 2017”, which documented the candlelight rallies that took place from the end of October last year until March this year. 


Yoo Ah In’s cheering message:

Yoo Ah In wrote a warm and heartfelt message to the students several hours before the exam took place, and the responds were overwhelming. Hundreds of students thanked him, felt really really moved and motivated by his words. They said they found strength and courage from his message to face the exam, they even gave courage to each other in his instagram 🙂

View this post on Instagram


A post shared by 유아인/YooAhin🇰🇷 (@hongsick) on

Translations on Yoo Ah In’s message:

Take a good look at what you’re trying to achieve. The ‘human grading assessment test’, called ‘SAT’ will give you a few grades on the exam. However, regardless the grades that you will get in this exam, regardless the university you will enter, regardless the lesson you will learn, regardless the qualification/certificate you will get, regardless the position you are going to hold in the society: your personalities will be equally precious and beautiful forever. And that’s the only truth.

Human qualification. That dignity is more superior and precious than the sublime/mundane rank of secularism, superficial/arrogant qualifications, and the insignificant identities of capitalism. Don’t forget. This is more precious than the useless answers that will be blackened/blacked out on the OMR cards.

Let’s not be discouraged. Win! Fight this order of an old era, not by being rivals to each other, but together with the other equally comrades! You are the hope of this era, and the witness of the future era!”

He added the caption: 🐣❤️✊🌈🚀🌏✨

He tweeted the message at twitter


~and posted it too in his Facebook

And then, Yoo Ah In replied quite many comments, which not only came from the students but also adults 😀 As expected, they became very ecstatic! Here are the translations:

jyj4447: Oppa, I’m shivering and I can’t sleep yet ㅠㅠㅠㅠㅠㅠㅠ until now ㅠㅠㅜㅜ Thank you for putting this [post] up ㅠㅠㅠㅠㅠ

Yoo Ah In: Don’t be afraid. Have fun!

jyj4447: ㅠㅠㅠㅠㅠOppa you’re daebak ㅠㅠㅠ ㅠㅠㅠㅠ I can’t believe this ㅠㅠㅜㅜ Thank you ㅠㅠㅠ Really really thank you ㅠㅠㅠㅠㅠ I will fight!!!! 💖💖💖

sweg0904: Our neighbor’s daughter next door, a 3rd year’s student and exam-taker, has cried so sorrowfully for 30 minutes. To say how nervous/trembling she is, her poor cries can be heard through the walls ㅜㅜ I will write Hongsik-nim’s post on a sticky note/post-it and stick it on the neighbor’s door in the hope that when she reads it tomorrow morning, these words can give her more strength.

Yoo Ah In: 🙏

likes_than: This is not just for the students, but for those of us who live in this era, living in a series of exams 🙂 [note: she quoted and altered Yoo Ah In’s Facebook letter “The Cries of My Generation”]

Yoo Ah In: Thank you for letting me know that you can take the world with you, that my shout/cry has reached you who’s coming from the third generation. I feel the reward and happiness and shame. It feels ‘cheesy’.

likes_than: Thanks for your reply. I’m moved by your passion of youth 🙂

siyeonabaek: Hongsik…. Even if you slap me with a zucchini.. I would still like you…. [note: she was joking by referring to Yoo Ah In’s debate with radical Korean feminists over his “zucchini-hit” tweet- which was blown out of proportion by them]

Yoo Ah In: [jokingly replied] Come here, I’ll slap you with a pack of zucchini💆‍♀️‍♀

jh830103: Although I’m not the test-taker/exam-taker, I’m thankful for your post… I know you wrote this for the test-takers, but you seem to tell me to become a dignified person too. Thank you… Apologize for interpreting your post on my own way.

Yoo Ah In: Don’t say sorry. Please exist. If you do, I would [be motivated to] do more 😘

iiiifam: Looks like an attention-seeker ㅋ [note: obviously, this dude failed in reading comprehension and Korean language exam]

Yoo Ah In: It’s different. It’s a seed that interests you so much/you pay so much attention to this seed [note: attention-seeker in hangeul literally means “seed of interest”]. I don’t know which one of us is that attention-seeker

born_tobeblue: You’re beautiful as you are. Don’t fill yourself with grades and ranks that world has made. Look at the world inside you.

Yoo Ah In: Inside your heart and my heart

mukenda.7: (this man has deleted his comment, obviously a negative comment)

Yoo Ah In: Stop pretending [to be aware of something], stop evaluating. Just sense it [use your sense]. You can do it. You already knew. By ‘sense/feeling’-

yes_i_willlllll: Someone seems to misunderstand the post. Ain-ssi doesn’t mean to say that students don’t have to work hard to prepare for the college-entrance-exam. He means to say to the test-takers that you, who have run so far to reach your own goals, should do your best. Don’t be afraid of the grade that will be tied to yourself, don’t shiver as if this is the end of the world. To youths who are so nervous, there is another world behind it, so don’t worry about it. Don’t be fooled by the exam system. I’m going to take the exam and win/conquer it.

Yoo Ah In: Reading comprehension💯 I don’t know what’s so difficult to read [to understand my writing]. I am moved by your sincerity and warm heart to wake up the blind ones….🙈

yes_i_willlllll: ㅋㅋㅋ your comments in my reply line….I’m crying ㅎㅎ When I saw some misleading comments, I felt really annoyed and I was frustrated for a moment!!! ㅎThanks so much for writing today 🙏 It was a very inspiring article to myself!!

yes_i_willlllll: I’m ready for any other exams. I won’t give up. I’ll overcome it. I always like Ah In’s good writings ㅎ


Master Sik, you just gave the big courage to these young people when they really needed the most. Hats off! I hope they will find their own future and fight for the better education system together!


Translated by Admin Mochi of Yoo Ah In International Fans Community

© Yoo Ah In International Fans Community
※ Any copying, republication or redistribution of YOO AH IN SIKSEEKLAND’s content is expressly prohibited without prior consent of YOO AH IN SIKSEEKLAND. Copyright infringement is subject to criminal and civil penalties.

4 Responses to “Yoo Ah In Cheers On Students Taking the College Entrance Exam, Has Sweet Chats with Them”
  1. Kyi Kyi Soe says:

    Hong is not only good in critical thinking but also excellent in motivating towards everyone including youth. This is the reason why I’v said that I’ve not felt offended at all with his jokes with fans. By the way, when looked at his photo in this post as well as in Facebook you could see that he looks more cheerful and handsome with a little puffy face. He is so thin nowadays. Seems that getting thin is a trend in Korea now. In my opinion, whatever the trend or a fashion is, one should keep him/herself in the most presentable and good looking shape. Just my point of view and I don’t mean that he should do that. He knows what he’s doing so I don’t want to stand in his way. I love to see him as he is.

    As a person used to with German Education system, the tragedy at college entrance exams in Germany are not easy as well. Criteria are so high. In addition, it will be an asset if you were accepted at least a professor of the college you wanna attend. The students who don’t have this connections have to go through the extremely difficult situation. Me too, no connections at all so, you can imagine how hard it would be for me. Could not eat, sleep, play and was in the library sometimes until midnight. One thing I can say is, it’s not the end of your world. We, as youth, have many different options once you’ve decided what in life you want to be.

    My entire family members starting from my grandpa were all medical doctors except me. I was not that brilliant or have not got flying marks from school. So, I fought for my freedom for choosing my own way. Imagine, this was the additional stress I had to go through. Now, although they called me a black sheep, I can stand firmly on my own belief. And,they now accept me.

    Therefore, I always encourage youth to go on the path they want to be but not to waste their time in trying hard to get into the most famous universities or to obtain the best income jobs. The most important thing in life is whether you are happy in life you have chosen. I am now a happy person and don’t care of my family’s criticizing comments. Yes, I am who I am.

    Thank you Hong, for your wise and beautiful advice to youth
    Thank you SIKseekers for your translations

  2. Laura says:

    He’s an angel. He inspires many young people. So sweet of him ❤ Thanks for sharing!

  3. Kasule says:

    For Sure This Should Also To Ugandan A Level Student Have Liked It Thank

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  1. […] November 23 – Past midnight, Yoo Ah In sent his warm message to the students taking college entrance exam, and replied many students and followers with his positive vibe. Read here. […]

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