Suneung tests retail creativity

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Suneung tests retail creativity

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Square-shaped apples with the word “hapgyeok” or “passed” in Chinese letters. are available at Lotte Department Store. These are apples survived harsh weather and didn’t fall off tree and therefore believed to be good luck for students. Provided by the company

A week ahead of the life-or-death College Scholastic Ability Test, or suneung in Korean, may be a time of high anxiety and dread for high school seniors and their parents, but it’s a good time of year for retailers.

Each November, Korean high school students sit for suneung, but not before receiving gifts from parents, friends and younger students and wishes for success on the most important day of their academic career.

Traditionally, yut, a type of sticky rice candy and chapssaltteok, or glutinous rice cake, have been the most popular gifts.

The idea is that eating something sticky helps the students “stick” to the college of their choice by getting high scores on the exam.

Also popular are more practical gifts like hand warmers, thermos bottles, vitamins and lunch boxes, as retailers take full advantage of the suneung to roll out test-related promotions and marketing.

Nonghyup Hansamin, the Korean red ginseng brand, is discounting red products by up to 50 percent at its stores nationwide until test day next Thursday.

Nonghyup Hansamin is offering Hongsam (Red Ginseng) A+ at a 20 percent discount and suneung gift sets, which include a doll, a sitting cushion, a postcard and a felt tip pen.

“We prepared the discount event of red ginseng products that are effective for keeping in good shape. We wish the test-takers have good results by eliminating fatigue and headaches caused by stress,” said a spokesman for Nonghyup Hansamin.

Lotte Department Store introduced square apples inscribed with the word “pass” in Chinese characters as gifts for students taking the test.

Galleria Department Store came up with an edible four-leaf clover, which represents good luck. The 15,000 won ($14.13) clover also contains the story that placing seven four-leaf clovers under a pillow will help students pass the exam.

FnC Kolon introduced seat cushion made of miocell, a premium antibacterial fabric, with the print of owl, a traditional symbol of wisdom and learning.

Household products maker Lock & Lock introduced its 2014 New Glow Thermos Set, useful for maintaining good health before the test.

It includes five kinds of thermos containers, including three kinds of small thermoses of 250 milliliters to 500 milliliters (8.5 fluid ounces to 16.9 fluid ounces) that are easy to carry, as well as a large capacity thermos of 1,500 milliliters and a thermal lunch box.

In particular, the thermal lunch box is perfect for keeping food hot for test-takers at what is known as a cold time of the year.

Swatch is marketing a suneung watch that also is emerging as a popular present for test takers. On the day of the exam, a wristwatch is one of the necessities that the students must take in order for them to manage time effectively.

As they have almost no sound of the sweep-second of a watch, they are perfect for exam day, when they are keen to even the subtle sound.

As their designs are also simple, they can be used as a fashion accessory even after the exam.

BY KIM JUNG-YOON [kjy@joongang.co.kr]

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