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Motor Mouth articles 2009

950th time lucky for a gritty gran

A study in single-mindedness: South Korean entrepreneur Cha Sa-soon

THERE must be a lot of money in vegetables in South Korea. Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d have cause to write, especially in the motoring pages.

A pensioner from the city of Jeonju is reported to have laid out more than £2,600 on application fees for her driving test theory.

You’ll be as delighted as I was, I’m sure, to learn that 68-year-old grandmother Cha Sa-soon has finally achieved the 60 per cent pass mark – at the 950th attempt.

And what spurred her on throughout all that paperwork over the past four-and-a-half years was her dream of driving a van around selling vegetables.

She’ll have to provide the good folk of Jeonju with an awful lot of bean sprouts and broccoli to recoup her outlay.

But before she can even get the show on the road, she will have to pass the practical test. The mark-up on those vegetables could be astronomical by the time she’s ready to start selling them.

According to the Korean Drivers Licence Agency, the 50-minute written test consists of 50 multiple-choice questions on road regulations and car maintenance.

The Korea Times reports that Mrs Cha’s single-minded determination to pass the theory test has made her quite a well-known character at the test centre in Jeonju, 130 miles south of the national capital Seoul.

An official at the centre reveals: “She is really famous here. Not only agency employees but even some test-takers know her. Her challenging spirit is really amazing.”

Interviewed back in February, fresh from her 775th failure, Mrs Cha displayed her characteristic determination not to be defeated.   

“I believe you can achieve your goal if you persistently pursue it,” she told Reuters news agency. “So don’t give up your dream. Be strong and do your best.”

A nice little bit of Oriental wisdom there. It will be interesting to see whether she remains as stoical if passing the practical part of the driving test proves equally tricky and long-winded.

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