South Korea postpones college exam after rare quake

2017-11-15 17:26
Students gather on playground after evacuating after an earthquake at Handong University in Pohang, South Korea on November 15. (Kim Yong-tae, Yonhap via AP)

Students gather on playground after evacuating after an earthquake at Handong University in Pohang, South Korea on November 15. (Kim Yong-tae, Yonhap via AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Seoul - South Korean authorities took the unprecedented step of postponing nationwide college entrance exams after a rare 5.4-magnitude earthquake hit the southeast on Wednesday, sparking alarm in a country that seldom experiences significant tremors.

The quake, the second most powerful recorded in South Korea, struck at the shallow depth of 9km near the industrial city of Pohang, the Korea Meteorological Administration said.

Seven people were injured, Seoul's public administration ministry said, but they warned that number could rise because the quake was shallow.

Seismic activity is closely monitored because a spike in activity is often the first indication that North Korea has carried out a nuclear test.

Wednesday's quake was felt across the country, including in the capital Seoul.

It came a day ahead of the all-important college entrance exam during which the whole nation falls silent to help teenagers focus on the annual event, whose result could define their future in the hyper-competitive society.

The Ministry of Education announced late on Wednesday that the exam would be postponed by a week because damage had been caused to some schools, Yonhap news agency reported, adding it was the first time a natural disaster had forced such a reschedule of the crucial exams.

South Koreans take significant steps to ensure their young students are not distracted during the annual exams.

Seoul's financial markets and many businesses open late in the day to clear traffic for test-takers, while airport landings and takeoffs are suspended for 30 minutes during the main language listening test.

Rushing out in panic

Photos and video footage sent to local TV stations showed crumbled street walls, furniture violently shaking inside people's homes and people rushing out of buildings in panic.

Shattered storefronts and goods tumbling off store shelves were seen in images posted on social media, as well as cars smashed by fallen bricks and cracks in the ground.

Emergency centres nationwide were flooded with thousands of calls seeking information, while Kakao Talk – the South's top mobile messenger application – reported service disruption due to heavy traffic.

Pohang, the main city closest to the epicentre, is home to the headquarters of Posco, the world's fourth largest steelmaker. No immediate damage was reported in the firm's steel mills.

Wednesday's quake was followed by multiple aftershocks including a 4.3-magnitude tremor that hit about two hours later.

Local nuclear reactors were operating without disruption, Yonhap news agency said, citing officials at Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power.

The most powerful quake recorded in the South was a 5.8-magnitude tremor that hit the southeastern city of Gyeongju in September 2016.

Read more on:    south korea  |  earthquake

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Reporting Accountant

Cape Town
Network Finance Professional / Prudential
R310 000.00 - R360 000.00 Per Year

Cluster Financial Manager

Cape Town
Network Finance
R950 000.00 - R1 000 000.00 Per Year

IT Manager (contract)

Cape Town CBD
Communicate Cape Town IT
R330 000.00 - R458 000.00 Per Year

Property [change area]

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.