Cheating scandal erupts as South Korean students face their toughest test

Two female students (not pictured) at a prestigious Seoul high school have been accused of cheating ahead of a prestigious university exam. Composite illustration.

Seoul (CNN)All flights in South Korea will be grounded Thursday, with no takeoffs or landings permitted for an hour.

Around the country, parents will be praying and packing lunch, and everyone will be avoiding words like "fail" or "fall" to avoid causing bad luck for the hundreds of thousands students taking the College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT), South Korea's university entrance exam.
The temporary no-fly order was issued by the Ministry of Interior to avoid distracting airplane noise and give test takers a fair shot, but in the run-up to this year's exam, attention has focused on the opposite of fair play. This month, a cheating scandal implicated a prestigious private school in Seoul's swanky Gangnam District, twin girl students, and their father, a senior school official.

    Suspicions rise

    At a press conference at Gangnam's Suseo Police Station on Monday, officers displayed a host of yellow post-it notes and a small notepad filled with sequences of numbers. Beside them were several pages from an exam paper, clean except for a stack of numbers on the back pagje.
    Reading from her report, investigation chief Jin Jeom-ok explained how police had been alerted to a potential cheating scandal at Sookmyung Girls' High School, a private institution which boasts more than 100 years of history and claims to send more students to SKY colleges, the Korean equivalent of the Ivy League, than any other. In the past, the school has produced many successful artists, businesswomen, and politicians, including the current first lady of South Korea.
    A student checks her exam room number before the annual College Scholastic Ability Test, a standardised exam for college entrance, at a high school in Seoul on November 23, 2017.