"Increases in the number of older and female drivers"
"With the advent of an ageing society, the number of older drivers has dramatically increased alongside traffic accidents associated with them, which has become a serious social problem. Also, many more women obtain drivers licenses and take to the wheel"
Page 7, Driver Handbook, Korean Road Traffic Authority
It was a hard call actually moving today, but bump start the bike I did (it has an electrical problem which means the electric boot doesn't work). I whizzed in (as much as a 125 4-stroke single can whizz) to the test centre, jumped all the queues (I've lived in France for too long) and went to the desk marked "Foreigners Only". Filled out two forms (asking the lady to write in my address for me as its all in Hangeul and written too small for me to attempt to copy first thing (11am) in the morning
Job done, took a ticket this time asked about the next step. Health check
This involves paying 4000 Won ($4) and standing at one end of the room trying to focus on small lines that made up letters or, as the lady said, "thats a number!". Oh, that'll be an 8 then. And thats a symbol I don't recognise.
My eyes have been out of focus all day, but she stamped the form anyways and back to the main desk with another ticket...
Next step : The theory lesson. But that was at 2pm. As it was barely midday, I bumpstarted the bike and rode the final 20km into Jeju city to do a bit of Essential Shopping. (cereals for the morning, wine for the evening). An excellent coffee that failed to wake me up and a toastie that held Mr Hunger at bay and back I was at the test centre again.
The video is a joke: The first 10 minutes was how they deduct points if you don't know how to indicate or switch on the lights. The next 15 minutes or so was about someone who recently passed the test with 100% but kept on panicing on the roads, followed by a tv show. There were 2 or 3 points that I picked up about driving in Korea but the final 20 minutes was really how much more zen and polite it is to drive in Japan
Still, an hour later, I got my form stamped as having done the theory, got another ticket to go to the main desk, paid another 4000 won for the theory test to be held in... 10 minutes. Not much time to revise or read the (admittedly pretty useless) Driver Handbook then
40 questions all in pigeon english. Much of it is common sense really but some stuff is specifically korea related. 40 questions done in half the time. I started to go back over them and then thought, sod that, I'll hit END anyway.... and my score was 86/100, which meant I had passed. Woohoo.
Down I traipsed to get yet another ticket to go to the main desk. And another 6000 Won later, I have booked my actual riding test. That is not until 2 weeks and I don't know if I can actually do that. I'll need to negotiate with school. Otherwise I will have to wait until another holiday (there is only one time slot for bike practical test : Tuesday 14h30... and thats it).
So if I pass the practical test, I will have a Korean motorcycle licence for $14 - or the price of a cheap (but drinkable) bottle of wine here...
So back I rode, still blurry eyed but a happy bunny with most of his driving test done and his bike working AND ... it gets better...
... 4 episodes of Breaking Bad magically appeared on my computer to finish off the evening.
Getting a Licence in Korea is pretty straight forward. This theory part is the same for bikes as it is for cars. For the practical part of the car license though, you are expected to have practical lessons before taking the test. Not so for the bike...