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Canada’s oldest man celebrates 111th birthday in B.C. with words of advice for party-goers

‘Exercise daily, smile often, surround yourself with good people, practice your faith,’ says JaHyung Lee
Wearing smiley-face masks, party guests celebrate the 111th birthday of JaHyung Lee (seated) at his Surrey-area retirement home on Sept. 23. (Photo:

Believed to be Canada’s oldest man, JaHyung Lee celebrated his 111th birthday at the Surrey retirement home where he lives.

In Newton on Sept. 23, Lee’s party featured a choir performance, music by saxophonist Jong Hwan Chun and Korean dancing by Rainbow Group, according to a news release posted by Amenida Seniors Community.

Before a cake-cutting ceremony, Lee’s family offered congratulations, and the birthday “boy” spoke about enjoying life at 111 years of age.

“The secret to celebrating a 111th birthday is to exercise daily, smile often, surround yourself with good people – friends and family – practice your faith, and try not to get too stressed out about day-to-day life,” Lee said, according to the news release.

“I’m lucky to be celebrating today alongside my friends and family.”

Party guests included Senator Yonah Martin’s chief of staff, Michael Chang (ambassador of Seoul), Woo Seuk Lee (president of Korean’s Veteran Association) and Dr. Peter Chung (president and CEO of Primacorp Ventures Inc.).

PICTURED: Guests celebrate the 111th birthday of JaHyung Lee, seated, at his Surrey-area retirement home on Sept. 23. (Photo:

Lee was born on Aug. 27, 1910 – the year of the first public radio broadcast, according to, and when the very first horror movie (Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein) was released in theatres.

The Now-Leader attended Lee’s 109th birthday party in 2019. That day, with a tip of his fedora hat, Lee smiled and thanked a room full of people for helping him celebrate.

• PHOTOS/STORY: 109th birthday party for ‘amazing’ Surrey man who still shops on his own and plays bingo.

In Korea, Lee operated a jewelry store until his retirement four decades ago, when he moved to Sao Paulo, Brazil, for about a decade, before the city’s pollution proved too much.

“He told us he wanted to live in a nicer country,” his granddaughter, Eun Song Choi, recalled in 2019. “From what I remember, he visited Canada and also Australia, and he decided Canada would be his home, in Vancouver, and now in Surrey. He came here (to Canada) when he was around 80 years old.”

Last January, Lee received his COVID-19 vaccine at the age of 110, making him one of Canada’s oldest residents to be inoculated.

• RELATED PHOTO/STORY: One of Canada’s oldest seniors, at 110 years old, gets COVID-19 vaccine at Surrey care home.

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Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
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