Korea’s fertility rate has hit an all-time low last year at 1.05 births per woman. Only 357,000 babies were born last year according to government statistics, making it also the first time there were more deaths than births.
Moreover, the average age of Korean women who give birth for the first time was 31.6 ranking them #1 in terms of oldest age of childbirth.
These outstanding statistics have been taking a toll, with numerous schools being merged or even closed down in the farming and fishing villages. It has also been reported that the alarming birth rate has caused the first shutdown of an elementary school in Seoul.
The number of elementary school students in Seoul, which was at 755,000 in 2000, has dropped down to 428,000 last year, a 40% decline. Not to mention, the situations in rural regions are far worse.
At this rate, people suspect that Korea will disappear due to the absence of births. While many people speculate the cause to be the career aspirations of women along with the financial burdens of bearing children, here are the opinions of some Korean citizens of the younger generation:
- “Korea’s not doomed because people aren’t having babies, people aren’t having babies because Korea is doomed” ㅡ 24-year-old job seeker
- “I don’t want to pass down the anguish of ‘hell Chosun’ to my children” ㅡ 23-year-old college student
- “It is a sin for parents to introduce a child into such a difficult world” ㅡ 28-year-old office worker
- “The fertility rate may be an issue for the government, but it’s not a problem for me” ㅡ 26-year-old office worker
- “I refuse to have a child since they’ll have to work even harder than me to support the elderly” ㅡ 25-year-old job seeker
- “I don’t even have enough time to date, having a child is out of the question” ㅡ 25-year-old office worker
- “Isn’t a smaller population better with our lack of job openings anyway?” ㅡ 25-year-old graduate student
- “I don’t want to suffer the pain of childbirth, I’ll just live happily with my husband” ㅡ 21-year-old college student
- “Sometimes I wish the fertility rate would continue to decline and the humankind just disappear” ㅡ 26-year-old office worker