Go to contents

[Opinion] Generation X Has Work to Do

Posted November. 01, 2005 03:01,   


After gaining attention with the novel “Generation X,” written by Douglas Coupland, an American, in 1991, the term Generation X became a worldwide catchphrase. This was echoed in the first line of the “New Generation” series “Self-centered,” printed in Dong-A Ilbo in 1993 that read: “When do I feel like an individualist? When I look at myself.”

The term Generation X was adapted differently in different countries. In Japan, it came to be known as the “new mankind,” while in Korea, it was the rallying cry for the “new generation” boom. Articles with headlines such as “Coffee is also Fashion”; “Money Solves Everything”; and “Love and Sex are Types of Self Expression,” brought disapproval from the older generation. It was difficult for the older generation to understand the youngsters born in the 1970s who have received the benefits of rapid economic growth and democratization. Some corporations used Dong-A Ilbo’s articles as part of their employee education courses.

Cheil Communication wrote a report that traced the new generation for 10 years after the concept was introduced. The report is titled “the 26-to-35 Generation.” It stated that the new generation has grown into a generation with five characteristics: self-centered, progressive, realistic, trend-conscious, and culturally open. They still retain many of the characteristics of the past, but their impulsive consumption trends have changed into rational ones. In other words, by experiencing unemployment since the economic crisis, they learned how much money is valuable.

The reason why attention is focused on the new generation is because they represent social changes. If the older generation lived in collective values of the agricultural society, the new generation was brought up opulently in an era of democratization, abolishment of school uniforms, culture of consumption and personal computers. The new generation’s attitude that puts “me” before “us” sometimes looks too selfish to the older generation. Although they say that family is important in life, a less number of new generation members say they are willing to sacrifice themselves for their families than members of the 386 generation. Most of the “Kangaroo Tribe” members who sacrifice their families for their own interests belong to the 26-to-35 generation.

Bill Gates and Michael Jordan are considered as world symbols of generation X. They lead the American soft power with the ability to foresee the future and unparalleled talent. Our new generation has now become the midfielder of the Korean society. There is no economic prosperity like the one we saw a decade ago. At any moment, Korea might become a senior citizen country before becoming a developed nation. The 2635 generation has too much work to do, before thinking of themselves only.

Kim Sun-duk, Editorial Writer, yuri@donga.com