Admission to South Korea's top three universities gives students a huge advantage in their careers, students and experts say; as such, many who fall short spend the following year cramming to better their scores on the national examinations. "In our country, college-entrance exams determine 70 to 80 percent of a person's future," said parent Chung Il-wook. "It's a sad reality. But you have to acknowledge it; otherwise you hurt your children's future."

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