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Hardliners: N. Korea’s 386 Generation

Posted October. 19, 2006 03:04,   

한국어

One analysis found out that North Korea’s recent hard line policies, such as conducting a nuclear test, are led by North Korea’s “386 generation.”

Doctor Lee Ki-dong of the inter-Korean relations research center in The Research Institute for International Affairs (RIIA) said during the seminar held by Unification Research Institute of Yonsei University under the theme of “recent North Korea’s inside situation”: “North Korea’s hard line should be understood from the generational point of view.” Dr. Lee also added, “From this point of view, North Korea’s 386 generation is leading the country’s hawkish stance.”

North Korea’s 386 generation refers to a new elite group of people in their early 40s or 50s. Lee explained, “North Korea’s 386 generation is well armed with socialism because they received sophisticated political, social education in 1960s or 1970s, when North Korea’s socialist system was well established.”

Since North Korea’s 386 generation is lining up in the office of Chairman Kim Jong Il of the National Defense Commission of DPRK, which is the equivalent of South Korea’s Office of the President, the possibility of North Korea’s policy direction being changed by them cannot be ignored. Dr. Lee pointed out as typical figures of North Korea’s 386 generation the following two men: Kwon Ho Ung, chief councilor of the DPRK Cabinet, and Kim Man Kil, deputy director of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland.

Dr. Lee added, “ The idea that North Korea’s hard line policies are led by military is a stereotype.”

As for the reason that North Korea has pursued “The Military-First Politics,” he said, “Currently, the communist party in the North can be described as suffering general paralysis where only the brain is functioning and as a result, the North Korean people have wide distrust against the party. Therefore, the military had no choice but to function on behalf of the party and North Korean leader Kim also resorts to the military more than the party when he makes policy decisions.”

He said, “If North Korea conducts a second nuclear test, risking sanctions by South Korea and China, its intention is to declare its return to the six party talks in a dead-end situation. Until then, it is highly likely for North Korea to escalate tensions in the international community.”



achim@donga.com