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103-Year-Old Philosopher Kim Hyung-Seok

A Song of Happiness and Hope by a Sage in His 100s




Living up to 100 years has become common in modern society. We are now preparing for a world in which people live even longer than 100 years. However, a 100-year life might not always be a blessing or joyful experience since how well we spend those years matters as well. This is an overwhelming task since we don’t have any established guidelines on how to prepare for the time when life expectancy exceeds 100. That is probably why we turn to Professor Kim Hyung-Seok, who is leading a successful life in his 100s as an intellectual and a “true grown-up.” Let us explore the inspiring life of Mr. Kim, who is enjoying longevity in his own productive way and teaching us what it is like to lead a happy life as a responsible adult.





A Contemplation on the Journey towards Dying-Well Through Aging-Well


A Korean independence activist Kim Gu (1876-1949) (pen name: Baekbeom), once said, “The path that I take today is a milestone for followers tomorrow,” which highlights the importance of making the most of every moment in life and leading by example. Although his remark makes perfect sense, it is apparently easier said than done. This is especially true when we discuss the path that we have never taken, and we all feel the same, as getting ready for a centenarian’s life is completely new to us. Therefore, we are suddenly left with a challenge to figure out how to spend those years well while we have no idea what it is like to be a centenarian.
Against this backdrop, it is all the more grateful and relieving that we have a wise grown-up who can give tips on how to address the challenge. He is Professor Kim Hyung-Seok, the “103-year-old Philosopher”, who still leads a healthy and organized life and shares his life-long insights and lessons with younger generations. Mr. Kim is considered the epitome of aging well. The professor adheres to his daily routine by starting the day at a fixed time and having simple meals, and never neglects reading and writing, which deserves utmost respect and applause.
Professor Kim is Korea’s 1st generation philosopher and has written a number of best-selling books, including After Living 100 Years (Denstory), The Diary of a Centenarian (Gimm-Young Publishers), Kim Hyung-Seok’s Answers to Questions About Life (Miryubook), Let’s Be Happy (Gimm-Young Publishers) and For My Remaining Days (Gimm-Young Publishers). He said, “The key to staying healthy and happy while aging is a sense of mission that drives you to finish the marathon of life.” Mr. Kim is still an active lecturer and writer despite his age. Of particular note, he introduces his approach to happiness in life as a philosopher in his essays that compile his reflections on life. As such, the essays contain the lifelong wisdom that he has steadily built along with his silent but faithful and wonderful journey through a century.






After Living 100 Years, The Diary of a Centenarian, Kim Hyung-Seok’s Answers to Questions About Life, For My Remaining Days



Professor Kim, who is enjoying a centenarian’s life that everyone aspires to, shares his thoughts on happiness in his essays. He defines happiness as “a sense of accomplishment from fulfilling responsibilities assigned during a life of dignity,” “a state where one can pursue his or her dreams and the outcome achieved from doing the best to realize them,” and “something that we can enjoy only when the values we cherish drive our lives.”
Further, the centenarian describes death as “finishing the marathon of life” and “returning to where we originally came from.” His works demonstrate his content life where he practices aging-well and dying-well without worrying about death. Professor Kim’s ideas on life contained in the essays gently move and resonate with the readers.


A Role Model Paving the Way Towards the Blissful Life of Centenarians


Professor Kim passes down his wisdom and lessons through philosophical reasoning based on his sharp insight that sometimes touches the heart. As an intellectual of our time, he now demonstrates that age is only a number. In his essays, he shares his lifelong experience and knowledge with readers while conveying encouraging and heart-touching messages of happiness to those who remain anxious and clueless before the new norm of longevity. The messages from his works always boil down to leading a “blissful life.”
Mr. Kim devoted much of his career to educating younger students as a professor in the Philosophy Department at Yonsei University. He published several textbooks on philosophy over his tenure. The publications provide a broader understanding of philosophy and self-development, and are must-read books for readers with great curiosity in philosophy as well as philosophy majors. Professor Kim’s textbooks, including Introduction to Philosophy, Philosophy 101, and Understanding Religion Through Philosophical Perspectives, are similar to his essays in that they all discuss the essence of life. However, in the books and essays, his greatest focus is cultivating a life that is filled with happiness.


As Korea’s 1st generation philosopher, Professor Kim passes down his wisdom and
lessons through philosophical reasoning behind the essence of life.


In many of his essays that deal with happiness, Mr. Kim acknowledges that “happiness comes in multiple forms, as it is a subjective value” while pointing out that “the correlation between success and happiness” is not always true. He also offers a piece of advice that “people in the middle class with a mentality of the upper class are more likely to stay happy and contribute to their community.” That is to say, in order to achieve “genuine happiness,” people should pursue not only individual happiness but the well-being of the overall society. This is a resounding message to those living in a highly advanced society but opt for an individual and fragmented lifestyle.
Moreover, Professor Kim believes that people should continue to work and read in order to make progress even after they turn 60. He also explains that constant reading, learning, working, and enjoying hobbies are some of the keys to staying happy, and he is indeed putting his money where his mouth is. In this regard, it is safe to say that Kim is a man filled with happiness, who is enjoying a centenarian’s life that is happier and healthier than anybody else and that everyone aspires. His lifelong journey toward intelligence and happiness is well described in many of his essays, starting from his first publication, The Illness of Solitude (Hongrim). Most of his books were selected as best sellers, praised as masterpieces of essay literature, and lighthouses on the voyage of life.



The Illness of Solitude



We all want to live a happy life and make wise decisions along the way. As we grow older, we want our remaining days to be happy and healthy, and to live long. Conveying a resonating message of “let’s be happy,” which happens to be the title of one of his essays, Professor Kim tells us from the heart that “my life has always been full of happiness.” Then, in a calm and grave voice, he offers his life lessons, which give us a chance to ponder how to lead a beautiful and motivating life as future centenarians.



Written by Kim Young-Ihm



Kim Young-Ihm

#Kim Hyung-Seok#100s#Philosopher#Dying-Well#Centenarian
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