South Korean woman who obtained driving licence on 960th attempt goes viral again a decade later

She also holds the Guinness World Record for most driving theory tests taken.

Daniel Seow | April 02, 2023, 12:40 PM

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The story of a South Korean woman who passed her driving theory test on her 960th attempt is going viral on social media again.

Cha Sa Soon, who is now in her 80s, made headlines in 2010 when she finally succeeded in getting a driving licence at the age of 69.

She failed her driving theory test more than 900 times and spent thousands of dollars on the endeavour.

Cha subsequently shot to fame in South Korea and holds the Guinness World Record for most number of driving theory tests taken.

Recently, her story of tenacity made its rounds on the Internet again after it went viral on a Reddit forum thread.

Took theory test five times a week

Cha initially decided to pursue a driving licence in April 2005 as the public transportation in her mountain-ringed village, Sinchon, was slow and infrequent.

This made it difficult for her as she ran a vegetable stall in Jeonju, which is about an hour's drive away.

Her first written theory test, on Apr. 13 2005, was the first of many failures.

Cha, undeterred, pored over her test-preparation books every morning, and before going to bed.

"She could read and write words phonetically but could not understand most of the terminology, such as 'regulations' and 'emergency light,'" explained Park Su Yeon, one of Cha's teachers at Jeonbuk Driving School.

Collectively, the teachers pitched in to give her extra lessons and painstakingly explained the terminology to her.

For the next three years, Cha took the theory test five times a week. Later, she reduced her attempts to about twice a week and continued until she finally passed it on the 950th try.

The last hurdle, the practical tests, took 10 more attempts before she was granted her driver's license, making it 960 tries in total.

Never say die

In total, Cha spent over five million won (S$5,090) trying to pass those driving tests.

“When she finally got her license, we all went out in cheers and hugged her, giving her flowers,” said Park.

“It felt like a huge burden falling off our back. We didn’t have the guts to tell her to quit because she kept showing up.”

Cha's story of perseverance made her a bona fide celebrity in her country.

Her story even caught the attention of car manufacturer Hyundai Motors, who gifted her with her own vehicle.

The automobile company later featured Cha in a popular television commercial as well.

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Even The Guinness Book of World Records celebrated Cha's achievement.

In a tweet in November 2020, it noted that the South Korean woman had set the record for "most driving theory tests taken."

Comments from netizens

Recently, as Cha's story went viral on social media again, many netizens praised her determination and perseverance.

via Daily Mail on FB.

via Daily Mail on FB.

Others humorously compared her to a popular children's cartoon character who still has not passed his driving test.

via Daily Mail on FB.




However, several other netizens raised concerns about her actual driving ability, since she needed so many attempts to pass.

via The Mirror on FB.

via Daily Mail on FB.

One Reddit user questioned if Cha had really understood the material that was covered in the driving test:

To which another user responded:

KBS reported that Cha got into a number of accidents, including one where she hit a persimmon tree, within a year of getting her license.

She was convinced by her children to stop driving for the time being.

Top photos by AsianCultureUnlocked on YouTube, Daily Mail & The Mirror