Go to contents

"386 Generation to Blame for Social Chaos"

Posted November. 09, 2004 23:15,   


“There is a continued division among the Korean people after the inauguration of the Roh Moo-hyun administration. The ruling Uri Party and the government show no concerns about what kind of economic hardships the general public is going through, and are only obsessed with the passing of the four major laws. Entranced with their ideals, they do not hesitate to do self-complacent, self-asserting, and anti-democratic things in order to achieve what they think is right.”

Jeong Eui-chae (79), an influential senior member in the Korean Catholic Church and a chaired professor at Sogang University, made acrimonious remarks on the misadministration of the current government at Myeongdong Cathedral on November 9 in a lecture hosted by the Seoul branch of the Catholic Lay Apostolate Council of Korea.

Causes of the Chaotic Domestic Situation –

Jeong picked aggravated economic problems, the serious division in public opinion, and inadequate hiring of high governmental officials as the fundamental reasons for the current chaotic domestic situation. The problems that contemporary Korean society has are being aggravated because of the fact that the key government offices are occupied by members of the ideologically biased and power-driven “386 Generation.”

Jeong, who had served in Sogang and Catholic universities as a professor for 45 years, criticized the so-called “386 Generation,” who are now in the core of political power, saying that due to their lack of knowledge, ability, and experience, the 386 Generation is still obsessed with outdated socialist ideology. Jeong cited distribution-oriented economic policies as an example and said that because of the government’s series of pro-socialist policies, the Korean economy is going down.

Regarding the controversial statement made by Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan that crippled the operation of the National Assembly, Jeong said that the remark came from Lee’s narrow-mindedness and lack of ability and virtue to encompass differences.

Problems with the Four Major Laws-

Jeong pointed out the problems that the four major laws – eradicating the National Security Law, creating a new law to probe into distorted history, and amending laws dealing with media and private schools – that the government and the ruling party are working on, and asserted that it is not a right time to waste national strength in such things when the public welfare is at its worst.

According to Jeong, considering the current situation where North Korea still sticks to the idea of reunifying the Korean Peninsula under communism and where most of the victims of the National Security Law have died out, the government should not insist on abolishing the National Security Law.

On the issue of amending laws on private schools, Jeong warned that if the government ignores the foundation purpose of each private school and changes the law according to the taste of the Korean Teachers and Educational Worker`s Union, the government would face stout resistance and protests from private religious educational institutions.

Jeong, whose family went downhill after his uncle died in prison after being captured for participating in the independence movement during the colonial period, said that despite bitter personal memories, he believes that the historical truth should be examined through academic research.

Also, the government’s attempt to control the number of newspaper copies by law is clearly an act of limiting the freedom of speech, which is one of the basic rights in a democratic regime, and ignores the readers’ right of choice. Jeong said that government’s double standard on the press cannot be accepted by any means. The government is taking harsh measures on newspaper companies that are critical towards the Roh administration like Chosun Ilbo and Dong-a Ilbo, and is showing hospitality towards pro-government broadcasting and newspaper companies.

Alternative Plans –

Jeong urged for a reshuffling of cabinet members and presidential aides, saying that Roh needs to redirect where he is heading with the help of skilled and experienced experts. This is time when we should mobilize all of the brains, technologies, and human networks to break the impasse. Jeong said that a supra-partisan cabinet should be formed in order to unify public opinion and to cope with the difficulties that the country is faced with.

Cha-Su Kim kimcs@donga.com