Seoul Students Sue Government for Early Test Bell Error During CSAT

SEOUL, South Korea - In a significant legal action, dozens of students have filed a lawsuit against the government, seeking compensation for an error that occurred during last month's college entrance exam in Seoul. The bell marking the end of a test session rang prematurely, causing disruption and confusion.

According to Yonhap News Agency, representing the 39 students, the lawsuit was filed with the Seoul Central District Court, demanding 20 million won (US$15,296) per person in compensation from the state. The error took place at Seoul's Kyungdong High School during the Nov. 16 state-administered College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT), where the bell for the end of the first Korean session rang 90 seconds early. The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education confirmed this mishap.

The premature bell ringing was attributed to a teacher's mistake in manually activating the alarm. The school attempted to rectify the situation by allowing students to use the missing 90 seconds during lunch, but they were not permitted to change previously marked answers. The students claim this disruption hindered their performance and that the retesting encroached upon their lunchtime, affecting subsequent test sessions. Some students were reportedly so affected that they abandoned the exam altogether.

More than a month after the incident, the law firm criticized the education authorities for their lack of apology, explanation, or measures to prevent similar incidents. It was also noted that the teacher responsible used a private device instead of the state-designated clock.

This incident follows a similar situation in 2020 at DeokWon Girl's High School in Seoul, where a lawsuit was filed against the state and the Seoul city government for compensation after an early bell rang during the national college entrance exam.

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