SEOUL-- South Korea's retail, restaurant and tourism industries, which have been preparing to attract customers in line with the end of the nationwide college entrance exam, postponed their planned events after the government delayed the test by a week due to a rare magnitude 5.4 quake that struck the country, industry sources said Thursday.

Lotte Department Store, Shinsegae Department Store and Hyundai Department Store said they postponed discount events for those holding test identification slips after the government pushed back the College Scholastic Aptitude Test to Nov. 23. The test was originally scheduled for Thursday.

The retailers said they are still discussing whether to reschedule various other events, such as makeup shows and fashion lectures, they prepared for students who will be going to college.

The week after the entrance exam is often regarded as a high season here, as many students and their parents flock to shops to celebrate the end of the exam and prepare for college.

Local restaurants and cafes also postponed their discount events, with some remaining perplexed over the sudden change.

"Many families come to dine after the test, so we have prepared supplies to meet the demand, but now I don't know what we should do with all these supplies," said 59-year-old Yoo, who operates a Korean restaurant in Seoul.

Hana Tour, the country's No. 1 tourism firm, said it has decided to extend or cancel trips for customers who cannot travel as planned due to the delay of the test.

Yet, they are still mulling over to what extent an exemption for the cancellation charges should be applied. It is still unclear whether the air carriers and foreign hotels will excuse them from the penalty fees, industry sources said.

Late on Wednesday, the Ministry of Education announced that it is postponing the test, about 12 hours ahead of the start of the exam, due to the quake that hit the southeastern city of Pohang earlier in the day.

The earthquake, the country's second most powerful on record, was felt across the nation, causing cracks in some school buildings in Pohang.

It marks the first time that the test has been abruptly rescheduled due to a natural disaster.

Hundreds of thousands of high school students sit for the entrance exam that is only held once a year. The test is deemed extremely important for students and parents, because getting into a top-tier college is seen by many as a way to succeed in the country.

Source: Yonhap News Agency