South Korean Ahjumma Finally Passed Her Driving Test After 960 Tries

Cha Sa-Soon spent over KRW6,000,000 (RM21,000) retaking the tests.

Cover image via Weird Asia News & Jessica Furtney/Unsplash

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Back in 2010, Cha Sa-Soon made her driving school proud after finally passing her driving test and earning her licence after 960 attempts

Image via Motor Authority

The then 69-year-old from Sinchon, South Korea began her journey in April 2005. After failing the written test the first time, she returned to Jeonbuk Driving School five days a week over a course of three years to retake it.

Only after her 700th attempt, had her pace slowed down to taking the written test only twice a week. She finally received a passing score of 60 over 100 at her 950th attempt, and qualified to take her practical test.

That itself took 10 more tries before Cha Sa-Soon finally passed and received her licence.

In a report by The New York Times, each repeat cost Sa-Soon about KRW6,500 (RM22), totalling her entire expenses to over KRW6,000,000 (RM21,120).

13 years later, Sa-Soon's extraordinary story of perseverance resurfaced last week, thanks to a viral Reddit post and a YouTube Shorts video by Asian Culture Unlocked.

Sa-Soon's impeccable success gained the attention of South Korean car empire, Hyundai, which gifted her a new car

Upon successfully passing her driving test after the 961st attempt, the staff at Jeonbuk Driving School cheered and hugged her, and gave her flowers to celebrate. Speaking to The New York Times, the staff did not have the heart to turn her away each time she came back, despite the painstaking efforts to guide her and her numerous failed attempts.

They saw how determined she was to keep trying until she passed, and in turn, became determined themselves to make sure that she did.

In Sa-Soon's eventual success made her a mini-celebrity in the area, after being known as 'the lady who failed over 700 times', and caught the attention of the South Korean car company, Hyundai.

Reported in the New York Post, the company gifted Sa-Soon a KRW21,800,00 (RM73,920) car, and even made her the star of one of their commercials.

Sa-Soon, now in her 80s, did not mind having to return to the driving school almost every day to retake her test, and said it felt like going back to school

Image via Weird Asia News

Sa-Soon signed up for a drivers license to keep her home-grown vegetable business afloat, and hoped that she could drive her grandchildren to the zoo.

"I didn't mind," she told The New York Times, adding, "To me, commuting every day to take the test was like going to school. I always missed school." Her journey involved her waking up early in the morning to study, transferring between buses to get to her driving school and back, and studying again before bed. 

Her tenacious routine didn't seem to shake her. In fact, after succeeding and having her story shared around South Korea, Cha Sa-Soon became quite the icon, bringing a whole new meaning to the saying,"knocked down four times, rise up five."

Meanwhile, earlier this year, a Malaysian student driver got into quite an accident during his practical test, crashing his car right into the driving school in Seremban:

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