Project Description

Reach for the SKY | 공부의 나라 (2015)

Every year, on the 2nd Thursday of November, the entire country of South-Korea is put to the test. That day, more than half a million senior high school students take part in the National Exam, better known as Suneung Siheom in Korean.

On the morning of Suneung, companies – even the Korean stock market – open up for business an hour later than usual to reduce traffic jams. Few planes are allowed to land or take off, so students can fully concentrate on the listening tests of the examination. Parents flock to do the exam centers where they spend most of the day praying while holding on to the closed school gates. Some can be found praying at Buddhist temples with their child’s photo and exam day identification form lain on the temple floor.

Months or even years before the exam takes place, Korean students often live a life of strict routine. On an average day, they get up as early as 6 am to go to school. When school is finished, they then attend a hagwon, a private academy, where they are primed for the big day for months in a row. Usually, the school day comes to an end when they arrive home well after midnight.

Suneung isn’t a regular high school test. The test will not only determine where the high school seniors will attend university but ultimately also their status in the Korean hierarchical society. At the most prestigious universities, spaces for freshmen are very limited, with chances of acceptance being less than 1%. Getting into a university with a good reputation is one of the most competitive experiences Korean students will ever experience in their life.

“The last few BIFFs have each afforded us one great documentary (Non-Fiction Diary, Factory Complex), and 2015 proves to be no exception with the discovery of the timely Reach for the SKY, a compelling look at a common but disastrous problem at the root of modern Korean society – competitive education. Constructed like a thriller and featuring a taut and ominous mise-en-scene, this joint production between Korea and Belgium is gripping from the start and builds to a devastating climax.”– TWITCH FILM

Directors WOOYOUNG CHOI | STEVEN DHOEDT
Producers  SINAE HA | GERT VAN BERCKELAER
Year of Production 2015
Country of Production KOREA | BELGIUM
Length 90′ |  56′
Language Korean
Subtitles English
Colour Colour
Shooting Format HD 1080p25
Screening Format  DCP | BluRay | Digital
Sound 5.1 Surround | Stereo
Genre  Documentary | Social Issue
Production Companies BODA MEDIA GROUP| VISUALANTICS
Project Website WWW.REACHFORTHESKYDOC.COM

“One of the documentaries that is sure to resonate at this year’s Busan International Film Festival, Reach For The SKY is as gripping as it is informative as it cleverly explores the Korean education system;
Reach for the SKY remains constantly engaging, even after the exam is over and results come out.”– SCREEN DAILY

Premieres

WORLD PREMIERE
Busan International Film Festival 2015
INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE
Dok Leipzig 2015