Driving Drama

Driving Drama (Original image from Unsplash.com)

Oh, wow, I cannot believe it’s April. In February, the Olympics took over my life, but I also had mentioned doing one other task — re-obtaining my driver’s licence. I lost my previous licence because of a regulation change I wasn’t grandfathered into. This process took much longer than I’d wanted, and it has caused me so much stress that I escaped reality with a lot of gaming. I will say right now that I never liked driving, but in order to prepare myself, I grudgingly forced myself to get a Korean and an international licence. This process was filled with unnecessary drama, and all I can say is that I am relieved it’s all done.

Step 1: Traffic Safety Course

This was a mandatory three-hour course taught entirely in Korean. The only English part came when I watched a video with English subtitles. The video was a badly enacted K-drama of a young man going through some new driver woes, and he’s accompanied by an annoying girlfriend. The video also showed Japan as a shining example of safe driving, which I’d found quite amusing and ironic. In between the video, the instructor went over the basics of operating a car and rambled on about how we are to drive safely.

Step 2: Course Driving Lesson & Test

The next portion had me drive around the course attached to the school for four hours. It’s actually a very simple course. It consists of going up a slope, driving into a parking lot to do backwards perpendicular parking, and then an acceleration zone. There’s a random part where the car computer system screams “Emergency, emergency, emergency!” at you, and you have to stop and turn on your emergency light. You also have to show proficiency with basic car controls. However, this was all graded on a computerised system, so if you don’t follow and do things precisely, you will fail. Thankfully, I passed this on my first shot, but it took a while to get used to the system. But man, that fifteen minutes of me doing the test was so nerve-wracking!

Step 3: Written Exam

To prepare for my written exam, I was given a PDF with 1000 questions, where only 40 of them will appear randomly on the test. A good chunk of the questions are the ones you answer after watching a video, but the PDF cannot hold any videos, so those questions were moot. Oh, and the questions were all badly translated. Many of them made me go WTF, but there was one question that really made me speechless.

Written Exam Sample Question

Here’s the question. I cannot recall any other questions as bad as this one, but many were quite close. Thankfully, I passed the exam on my first try with the bare minimum score of 70. I really hadn’t wanted to re-take this, so I was very relieved to have passed it!

Step 4: On-road Driving Lesson & Test #1

After my written exam, I had to practice the on-road driving courses for six hours. There were four courses to practise, and I would be tested on any one of them. They are easy courses that test on your ability to drive in real traffic, change lanes, make turns, and make a U-turn.

During my testing session, the guy before me failed within the first two minutes because he ran a red light. When it was my turn, I failed for several reasons:

1) I didn’t check the tires by kicking it. Only one of my instructors (out of four) mentioned that to me, so I didn’t really think it was something they tested on.

2) When I made a turn, I didn’t enter the correct lane.

3) When I had to change lanes from 4 to 1, I kept my blinker on during its duration. I was supposed to turn the blinker on and off each time I changed lane. Oh, and I didn’t wait long enough to change into the lane.

4) My last mistake was making a U-turn too late when the pedestrian light was blinking green. I’d hesitated too long to make my turn.

Step 5: On-road Driving Lesson #2 & Test #2

After my first failure, I paid for two extra hours of practice time and to re-take the test. Unfortunately, I failed the second test for a reason out of my control. I had to make a right turn at an intersection, and there’s a pedestrian crosswalk there. When I got there, it was green, but we’re told to still go if there is nobody around. Slowly, I turned into the crosswalk after double-checking for pedestrians. When I reached the middle of the crosswalk, I started to drive on. However, a pedestrian on the other side of the 8-lane road, whom I didn’t see because he was so far away, decided to make a run for the crosswalk. He stepped in just as I was driving on, and that automatically failed me. Needless to say, I was pissed at that pedestrian.

Step 6: On-road Driving Test #3

On my third attempt, the school did not pick me up on time due to somebody not doing their job. But I was picked up eventually and was able to still take my test late. This time I passed. I think the examiner went a little bit easier on me (maybe he could sense I was getting fed up with everything?). At first, I thought I was going to fail because he told me to slow down behind a dump truck once, and he told me to go at an intersection with a crosswalk (I wasn’t about to fail again because of a darn pedestrian), but I think he was just helping me a bit.

In the end, I passed. Third time’s a charm, indeed! Just in time for my Guam trip, too, where I made plans to rent a car. I may not like driving, but I see it as an evil necessity, and I’ll be practising more than before. Thus ends the long drama of my driving hell!


  1. Hey Tara! I’m catching up on blog posts now (as you can imagine!) – it’s your turn! Needless to say, I felt upset reading about your driving woes, because some of what happened to you shouldn’t have happened and no doubt would have made you really anxious. 😞

    First, that computer-graded test! Even though it is computer-graded, did you have to be accompanied in the car? In Australia, at least in my state/city, with the physical driving test, you need to be accompanied before you have a licence. The test involves either perpendicular or parallel parking but you don’t know which you will be tested on until you are present for your test. The emergency test would have me shaking in surprise too!

    The PDF with 1000 questions reminds me of the test we have, that you take before you are even allowed to sit and drive in a car. It’s known as a knowledge test and we also get a tonne of sample questions in a PDF but there are only 40-45 that appear in the test. That question you showed is completely bizarre though…

    It’s a shame that you failed that time because of a pedestrian. :| I’ve heard stories from my friends who have failed because of some things beyond their control, or where they would not have expected to fail. Although I passed my driving test on the first go, I lost a mark in one spot because I hadn’t watched out for a pedestrian. But I had waited for the pedestrian to cross in front of my car, and didn’t move, but they walked behind my car, so I went ahead and completed my turn. I don’t know what I got wrong, but what else was I supposed to do?

    So glad you are done with all that!! Well done for dealing with it all 😄 Getting a licence is such a pain, but it’s oh-so-necessary these days, at least until robot cars take over and are totally safe to use.

  2. Congratulations again on passing your driving test! It sucks that you had to go through the whole drama all over again but at least you got your license again! I kind of wish we have a stricter driving test in the US because there are a lot of bad drivers… Wow, your course sounds really intense! The computer system screaming is totally new to me. The written exam is so crazy! I remember seeing some questions with tricky choices. Now that you passed the driving test, no more driving drama (with getting the license)!

  3. Congrats on getting your driver’s license! I found it interesting to read how it’s done where you are. That’s tough to do a test with poorly translated questions. (What’s the right answer to that one anyway??)

    Your driving test also seems harder than the one I’ve done. (Though, that might be a good thing because there’s a lot of pretty bad drivers here, and we probably should have a harder test…) I’m amazed that they test you on things like whether you check your tires? That’s also really annoying about the pedestrian on your second test!

    I’m glad you’re all done with this now! It sounds like it was stressful and time consuming!

  4. I’m glad you passed! It wasn’t very difficult to get my driver license back in 2009, but the year after they made it a requirement for anyone under the age of 25 applying for a license to take a driving class of some sort.
    I suppose in that aspect, I was lucky. However, I hate driving to no end regardless. Unfortunately, around here walking anywhere is out of the question due to these towns being so rural that it’s about 10 miles to get to anything.

    Regardless, I HATE driving, but realize it’s a necessity to living in the USA, especially in Texas where the land is so spread out.

    I’d say it’s safe to assume you’re just glad everything is done and over with!

  5. OMG that sounds like a huge hassle! I always get surprised when I learn of what some people have to go through to get a drivers license. Mine was sooo sadly simple that it hardly seems legal. I think they sort of changed the rules since then though cause I’m old and things change. Heh.
    I think I just took a test after I was so called practiced by a parent on how to drive.

  6. I am pleased to hear that you were able to pass. It is entirely crazy everything that was involved. At least you shouldn’t have to worry about having to do any of that again!

    I am still learning to drive. Georgie mentioned some of the things that are involved in getting a license in Australia. I am in the ‘learner’ stage where I can drive but have to have a licensed driver with me and display an ‘L’ plate. I am trying to muster the courage to drive in traffic, so I can take the next test which is an on-road one and progress to a provisional license, where I can drive alone with a ‘P’ plate displayed.

    Driving makes me very nervous. Like you mentioned though it’s such a great thing to be able to do. I think it gives you a lot of freedom and independence.

  7. That question is like…are there even any wrong answers? (‘Cause it seems like all are right?) Congrats on passing! I can’t remember anymore how many times I had to take the written (multiple) choice one…I think it was twice. But I also got a 70—just on the driving part.

    Even though it’s important to drive well, I feel like they test people harder for the test regardless of outside obstacles (like if the road I’m supposed to turn down is literally a one-car street that, in this state at least, you drive in the center of until someone else comes up, then you go to the side). And the people testing others…like, do they really keep specifically to these rules? Ah, I don’t know.

    The test for you seems more complex than here, but then I was also grandfathered in to a law requiring people taking driving classes, so I just did the test. It’s so weird when I see others’ processes, heh.

    Will you have to do testing again when it comes to renewing your license?

  8. Ohhh my god what a mess. I can’t believe you had to jump through those hoops! In Boston a lot of people don’t drive here, so I’ve helped a few people get their license and it’s sooo easy. They barely care if you can drive, they just want to make sure you know that red means stop and green means go. Beyond that the tests last barely any time and don’t involve much more.

    Anyway congrats, that sounds like the stupidest thing. You should totally reward yourself with a new video game or something!

  9. Congratulations on passing your driving test! That must be such a relief to finally get that out of the way.

    Wow, a file with 1000 questions and only 40 of them coming out? WTF. I got my license back in 2009, and I remember only reading a small booklet (not even in question format) about the exam, and I believe 20 questions were given – although not sure how different it is now!

    Thanks for sharing about your experience with obtaining your license. At least now you don’t have to worry about all this driving drama anymore. :)

  10. Congrats! Sounds like you had a lovely time :D I’m also so relieved I finally got mine!

  11. I didn’t realize it was THAT hard to get a driving license in Korea! I got mine here (in the Philippines) without even having to do the driving exam (and the driving exam was so easy, you just need to go through this super basic obstacle course of sorts). At least you can be comforted that most of the people who are driving along with you in the streets have been tested rigorously as well? :)

  12. Ahh I can’t imagine having to retake the driving test, but I guess mine is much simpler here. No wonder many of my international friends tried to get their license in the States when they went to school here. Congratulations on your pass! It’s over now!

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