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386 Generation Activists in Power Profiled

Posted December. 02, 2006 07:27,   


It is confirmed that 15 Cheong Wa Dae presidential aides who belong to the 386 generation and were once arrested for violating national security law and the law on gathering and demonstrations received an official recognition of their participation in democratic movements.

The recovery of honor was also made for approximately 10 former Cheong Wa Dae aides after their participation in democratic movements was recognized.

These facts were confirmed when Dong-A Ilbo analyzed the “Democratic Movement Participation Recognition Notice” obtained from the Committee for Recovering Honor and Rewarding to Those Related to Democratic Movements on December 1.

However, there are several staff members of the 386 generation who did not apply for the official recognition. Among 258 staff members in the position of an executive official or above, more than 30 are of the 386 generation and once served a prison term for their involvement in political cases. The number amounts to 70 if retirees are included.

Another analysis showed that the number of 386 generation staff members who can be classified as activists though they did not serve a prison term amounted to 100 by the end of November.

In the 2004 general elections, 12 former activists who belonged to the National College Student Representatives Council ran for office as Uri candidates and won. Approximately 150 former activists, including Uri Party executives, lawmaker assistants, and assistants to leading politicians, are working inside and outside the National Assembly.

These former activists who entered Cheong Wa Dae or the Uri Party based on personal connections are known to have led the government’s agenda items such as gaining self-reliance, reforms, and settling accounts for the past, which goes to show why the Roh administration is called the “386 administration.”

Seven secretaries and eight executive officials served a prison term when they participated in student movements, including Unification Security Strategy Secretary Park Seon-won, Civil Society Secretary Kim Taek-su, Government Information Secretary Kim Jong-min, Vice Spokesman and Domestic Press Secretary Choi In-ho, Civil Appeal and System Innovation Secretary Heo Seong-mu, Service Innovation Secretary Kim Chung-hwan, and Record Management Secretary Lim Sang-gyeong.

Eight executive officials received an official recognition as related to democratic movements: Kim Hyeon-su in the Civil Society Chief office, Jeong Dong-su in the Economic Policy Secretary office, Yun Geon-yeong and Oh Seung-rok in the Secretarial Chief office, Yun Won-cheol in the Policy Chief office, Kim Jin-hyang in the Personnel Chief office, Kim Gyeong-su in the First Division office, and Jeong Jong-seung in the Social Policy Chief office.

Cheong Wa Dae staff members of the 386 generation have pushed for various policies made to change the mainstream in the name of reform in close alliance with those former activists in the Uri Party. As people are disenchanted with the government’s way of dealing with national issues, however, there are rising voices criticizing these members.

A staff member and former activist said, “Frankly speaking, we were not ready to run the nation even though we worked to make Roh president.”

Seoul National University Sociology Professor Lim Hyeon-jin analyzed, “The 386 generation contributed to the transition from industrialization to democratization. But they failed to create a vision for post-democratization Korean society. Some former activists in power were not open to new ideas.”

yongari@donga.com ditto@donga.com