|Joongang Ilbo among other reports of a recent study, which tells that the oldest Korean is Ch'oe Ae-gi, 109, of Cheongun-dong, Jongno-gu. The oldest man is Yi Yông-su, 105, of Naju, Northern Jeolla. The research team concluded that the factors behind a long life are regular eating and other daily habits, diligence, and an overall positive attitude.
Seems that research set to find the "secret behind living 100 years" has a high chance of getting funding in Korea.
I'm reminded of Aarne Arvonen, at the moment aged 107, from my original hometown Järvenpää. After turning 18 I sometimes went to one of the few pubs in that town; remember someone pointing to an old man of short stature and telling that he's over 90. Sure, I thought. Mr Arvonen continued to be a steady customer of that pub, and perhaps still is; at least that was the place where we went for a beer three years ago with Arvonen and two Korean professors who were here to study Finnish centenarians as a part of their project. He used to walk there way past his 100th birthday, but then his legs got weaker and he had to start using a cab. Here are some snippets of his life from an article two years back:
In 1917 Arvonen was recruited to help build fortifications in St. Petersburg. He had a six-month contract, but he did not get a chance to work very long. At first the work was brought to a halt by the March Revolution. Then Arvonen's friend died of smallpox, and the whole team was quarantined.
"I was sent to Poland, but I became homesick, and with no money I went to Finland by train. The other passengers helped me hide from the conductor."
Back in Finland Arvonen continued to live on the streets of Helsinki and was recruited by the Red Guards. During the Finnish Civil War he was taken prisoner by the Whites at the battle of Joutseno and was sent to the prison camp in Tammisaari for a year. One of the guards at the camp was his own uncle.
"After the [Second World] war I did not have any work and I dared not get into anything. Then I found out that some American Quakers were hiring people to go to Lapland to do reconstruction work, and so I went there. At that time I was almost 50 years old. The rest were just over 20."
"In Lapland I worked at many construction sites. From there I went on to Norway, and from there to France. I had studied Spanish, and I was interested in going to Spain. I hitchhiked to Barcelona and back to Paris. By then I had run out of money and I wrote to my younger daughter who sent me some."
The vivacious 105-year-old keeps track of world events by radio. His eyesight is poor, so he cannot watch television any more. For the same reason he can no longer indulge in a hobby that is dear to him: astronomy. Arvonen used to enjoy calculating the orbits of the planets.
"I never had an academic education, but ever since I was a schoolboy I have been reading books. Isaac Newton is a good example to follow. Einstein's theories get so complicated that I wonder if they're of much use. Newton's laws - force and counterforce - apply to other parts of life too. There's always a counterforce. People have to know when to give in."
Here's another piece on Aarne Arvonen, made when he was 102.