Academic triumph of 82-year-old woman

By Lee Hyun-jeong
  • Published : Feb 5, 2014 - 20:26
  • Updated : Feb 5, 2014 - 20:26
Oh Jeom-nyuh. (Yonhap)

About 80 students, mostly senior citizens, graduated Wednesday from Jeollabukdo Women’s Secondary School in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province. The graduates of the secondary institute established for women who were not able to complete their education range from those in their 30s to some in their 80s.

The oldest is Oh Jeom-nyuh, 82. She is 52 years older than her youngest classmate.

For Oh, graduation seemed much more meaningful than for the others.

“I’ve long regretted that I was not able to study. Today, I finally achieved my goal,” Oh told The Korea Herald.

Oh was once a daughter in a rich family. Her stable life, however, was ruined after three of her brothers were conscripted for forced labor during the Japanese colonial period and the Korean War. Another brother left for China to participate in the independence movement. Soon, her father died from a disease. She and her mother were left on their own.

When she was 15, Korea finally regained independence, but she remained concerned.

“Nothing changed. Life was still hard. I had to earn money somehow,” she said.

Instead of going to school, Oh had to work at a textile factory. Even after getting married, she continued to work to take care of her husband and two daughters.

Keeping a strong desire for learning, Oh entered the school in 2008 after she happened to see an advertisement for it on television.

After enrolling, she felt pride and satisfaction to be studying at school.

“Her attitude was much better than others. She never skipped classes except when she had a lumbar disc surgery last year,” said homeroom teacher Lee Doung-seok, who taught Oh for two years of the six-year course.

Oh is not ready to call it quits on the academic front yet; she has applied for admission to a four-year college in her town to study psychology.

“I’m not sure if the school will accept me because I’m too old,” she said with a laugh. “I just want to study more. Learning is so much fun.”

By Lee Hyun-jeong (