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[Opinion] Myth of Generations

Posted September. 21, 2003 23:07,   


People now in their 60s used to be called `Hangeul-generation` (meaning Korea language) as they grew up – I am one of them, in fact. They were the first group of children who learned Korean in primary schools after independence of the country. They read such Korean sentences in textbooks as `beautiful mountains and rivers in our country` and `they visited the old capital of Baekje Kingdom on one fine day of spring…` The little students then grew up to become college students and led the April 19 protest against a dictator, dubbed `April 19 generation.` We were excited after expelling the dictator and felt proud of what we did for democracy. We thought that the old generation was just pathetic and helpless.

We believed at that time that this country would become one great nation. We expected that one of us would make a great leader, rooting out corruption and establishing a democratic system. We also believed that reunification was just around the corner. Soon, however, we got bitterly disappointed. We were so caught in the mood of the time that we could not recognize that the chaos and political bickering would lead to May 16 coup.

Then, came a generation after another. New generations, such as `6-3 generation` and `386 generation,` emerged every time the country went through political upheaval. The `April 19 generation` soon became a thing of past. Having few chances to contribute to the society, we were pushed aside. Younger generations that followed ours experienced frustration, too. As we grew old and our hair turned silver, we realized that a generation is nothing but a glossy word that suits your ears.

Experience and wisdom count. When we were young and passionate, we were restless and could not wait to make changes. We blamed old generations for their lethargy and helplessness. Things in this world require experience as well as passion and capabilities. When they say `generations,` therefore, they must mean all the generations including us. This way, they will stop thinking `being old is being nothing.` We wish that young generations of today will not repeat the same mistake of being caught in passion of moments. I am saying this not just for them, but for this country.

Jin Deok-gyu, Guest Writer, Professor at Ehwa Women`s University, dkjin@ewha.ac.kr