Former NL Activists in the Blue House

[imText1]The Blue House, originally meaning the Republic of Korea’s presidential mansion and popularly referring to the office of the president, under President Roh Moohyun is staffed mostly by veterans of student movement in the 80s. And among those former college student leaders in the Blue House, many used to be so called National Liberation faction, shortly NL.

In the early and mid 80s, South Korean college student activists fought against the military dictatorship of Chun Doo Hwan. Most of the students were leaned toward communist ideology. Two most powerful factions in the leftist student movement struggled for hegemony were National Liberation faction and the People’s Democrat, PD. NL student leadership believed in revolutionary idea of Kim Il Sung, which emphasized nationalist struggle against American imperialism which “colonized” the southern half of the Korean Peninsula. In contrast, PD followers adhered to the Soviet Union-type communist idea, insisting on fight between proletariat and capitalists within South Korea. The PD movement mostly faded away in the early 90s as the Soviet bloc collapsed. The NL, however, survived because North Korean communism did sustain through the decade of worldwide communism’s demise. Nonetheless, most of the former NL leaders have now given up their revolutionary connection after a famine and mass defection in North Korea in the late 90s, and entered into the real-life politics either in the Blue House or in the ruling Uri party.

The current South Korean government has been keeping its pacifist policy toward North Korea even after the latter tested its nuclear warheads last month. Leadership of the Uri party and ex-NL members of National Assembly argue against Seoul’s participation in PSI and are antagonistic against American Neo-Cons.

The former National Liberals are positioned in the government, mainly the Blue House.

It has been accused that the ex-NLs’ pro-Kim Jong Il and anti-American approach are because of their past experience in the 80s. Even though most of the former student movement leaders contributed South Korea’s democratization, they were also baptized by pro-North Korean communist ideology and extreme anti-Americanism in the 80s. Of course, it is irrational to believe that the significant majority of them still seek socialist revolution or is following the Juche ideology of Kim Il Sung. Yet, since the ex-NLs’ experience in the past seems to be influencing their political attitude toward Pyongyang and Washington, it is worth to examine the former National Liberals who are positioned in the government, mainly the Blue House.

Inside the Uri party, there are three ex chairpersons of the National Conference of College Students’ Representative. The organization had been a leading student organization in the late 80s, reportedly led by Anti-American Youth Group and Self-Reliance Democratic Reunification Group; both groups believed in the Jucheism, North Korea’s state ideology. Other than ex-chairpersons of the NCCR, more than 10 current member of the National Assembly worked in the student organization. If staff members of the Representatives included, the number rises well over 100.

In the Blue House, the number of former NLs is not significantly less. Out of 268 Blue House staffs, 30 to 40 are classified as former NL student leaders in the 80s. Those Blue House staffers who participated in pro-NL NGOs other than student movement are not included in the number.

Ex-student leaders of Yonsei University have risen to higher positions in the Blue House.

The counsel of the president, Chun Hae Chul, is a forty-four year old ex-student leader from Korea University and led human rights committee of the Democratic National Reunification Union, a pro-North Korean organization in Seoul, in the late 90s.

Kim Young Bae, a staff member under Chun, is also ex-NL from Korea University. Kim worked as a secretary of the chairman of the NCCR.

Another former Korea University NL is administrator Song Jin Ok of the Blue House’s Situation Room.

Since last year, ex-student movement leaders of Yonsei University have risen to higher positions in the Blue House. Yoon Tae Yong, spokesperson of the President, is a graduate of Yonsei University Department of Economics. Yoon was imprisoned by the military government for disseminating anti-government pamphlets.

During his college years, Yoon was known to be admired by other students because of his exemplary character in student movement.

Chun Ho Sun, a 44 year old former chief of the Situation Room, studied sociology at Yonsei University and led student protests in the early 80s.

Former spokesperson of the Blue House Kim Mansu, forty two years old, is a friend of Chun and Yoon. Kim graduated from Yonsei University’s with a degree in sociology. He was imprisoned in 1987 for involving in a NL underground organization in the university.

President’s Advisor on Security Strategy, Park Sun Won, 43 years old, is also from Yonsei University student movement. Chaired the ‘Reunification, Democracy, People’s Liberation Movement’ in 1985, Park was arrested in the same year for illegal occupation of the American Culture Center in Seoul. Park studied international politics in Great Britain afterward.

President Roh’s personal secretary is Moon Yongwook, a graduate of Yonsei University as well, and former president of the student body of the college of humanities in the university.

Several tens of other former NL student activists are stationed in the Blue House

President Roh is known for having a private meeting with spokesperson Yoon Tae Yong, former chief of the Situation Room Chun, personal secretary Moon Yong Wook, and current chief of the Situation Room Lee Ho Chul, every morning on daily issues and public opinions. Lee Ho Chul was a prominent student leader of Busan National University in the early eighties.

Yang Jung Chul, PR planning secretary, is a graduate of Korean Foreign Language University and ex-chairman of a sub-organization of the Self-Reliance Democratic Struggle Committee. He was affiliated with Anti-American Youth Group.

Yeo Tak Su former administrator of the Blue House is former Korea University student body’s vice president in 1988. Baek, a forty-year old, is also a former Korea University student activist who was an administrator in the Blue House and is an Uri party member of the National Assembly.

Former Presidential spokesperson Kim Jong Min, 42 years old, graduated from Seoul National University with Korean major and participated in a NL student movement as a propaganda specialist.

Other former NL student leaders in the Blue House include; Kim Hyun, 41 years old, public relations secretary and former officer of Hanyang University student council, Lim Sang Kyung, 41 years old, archives secretary and former president of Soongsil University’s student body, Lee Eun Yong, a 36-year old administrator of the public opinion office and former officer of Kookmin University’s student council, Kim Kyong Su, 39 years old, administrator and former leader of student movement at Seoul National University, and Oh Seung Rok, 37 years old, administrator in the office of the Chief of Staff and former vice president of Yonsei University’s student council.

Also, several tens of other former NL student activists are stationed in the Blue House at secretary or administrator levels.