[Washington Post] North Korea’s millennial defectors now seek political power in the South

9 Apr 2024

On April 5, 2024, The Washington Post covered Park Choong-kwon, a 23-year-old aspiring lawmaker and candidate for the conservative party led by President Yoon Suk Yeol. Formerly a ballistic missile researcher in North Korea, he defected from the country at the age of 20, despite leading a privileged life as a member of the ultra-elite. 

(NKDB Hanna Song) “To the extent that the regime was investing in them, they were North Korea’s future.”

Park is one of the only four North Korean defectors ever to hold a position in the South Korean legislature. His primary objective is to foster connections and dialogue for inter-Korean relations through his political engagement. He seeks to raise awareness about the need for Korean unification and the improvement of human rights conditions in North Korea, particularly among the younger generation in South Korea.

Park belongs to the "Jangmadang Generation," a term coined for the cohort of millennials who grew up in North Korea during the 1990s. This generation witnessed the emergence of markets following a severe famine, which underscored the state's inability to provide for its citizens. Drawing from his firsthand experiences on both sides of the Korean peninsula, Park intends to utilize his dual identity to develop innovative approaches to inter-Korean relations.

(NKDB Hanna Song) “The fact that they’ve used, in a way, their experience in the North to turn that into something that they want [for] a brighter future for the entire Korean Peninsula could send really strong messages to both the North and South Korean young people.”

You can read the full article on the NK News website by clicking HERE.