Ad Nut may be a cynical little creature, but is not ashamed to admit to weeping a little during this video.
According to a study cited in the agency’s press release, students in South Korea rank lowest among all OECD nations in life satisfaction, and they tend to suffer from stress and depression. Starting at the age of 5, all the studying efforts of South Koreans lead up to one important exam: the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test).
EBS (South Korea’s Education Broadcasting Network) and Cheil Worldwide embarked on a campaign in November last year to “boost students’ self-esteem”.
According to Cheil, the agency “secretly” contacted student’s parents to write letters of encouragement to their children. The letters were inserted into the individual students' exam papers as if they were articles for the reading-comprehension part of a test (presumably a practice exam and not the actual SAT).
The film above, 'The healing exam', follows the emotional changes among the students as they discover the letters from their parents during the exam. The students were also able to write answers that were then shared with their parents.
According to Cheil the video exceeded 7 million views in two days.
The campaign was then extended in a few ways. Firstly, other schools launched similar efforts to spread messages of encouragement. The schools also held exhibitions where the exam papers and answers written by the students were displayed. EBS also added the related documentary video to its program on the topic of school education.
Said Sungjun Park, creative director, Cheil Worldwide:
Healing Exam project is about curing the stress caused by exam, with the exam. We wanted to send a message to students who learn how to grade themselves even before they learn to love themselves, to cherish their lives more and realize that their lives cannot be judged by scores.
As with many such films, Ad Nut is not entirely certain whether the reactions of the students are sincere, or perhaps played up for cameras. They could all be actors, for all Ad Nut knows (see, Ad Nut's cynicism remains intact!). However, the idea of encouraging parents to be, well, more encouraging, especially in a country where the pressures on young people are so dreadfully high, has value well beyond such concerns.
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