Easter Parade in South Korea, CNN

South Korea To Establish A New Ministry To Target Low Birth Rate Crisis

South Korea is facing a pressing demographic challenge as it grapples with an alarmingly low birth rate, prompting President Yoon Suk Yeol to propose the creation of a dedicated government ministry to tackle the issue head-on.

 In a televised address, President Yoon described the country's low birth rate as a "national emergency" and emphasized the need for concerted efforts to overcome this demographic crisis.

The proposed Ministry of Low Birth Rate Counter-planning aims to mobilize all available resources to address the underlying factors contributing to the declining birth rate in South Korea. President Yoon's announcement comes amidst growing concerns about the long-term implications of the country's demographic decline, which has reached unprecedented levels with a fertility rate of just 0.72 in 2023.

South Korea's fertility rate is the lowest in the world, well below the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman needed to maintain a stable population. This demographic challenge is compounded by the rapid ageing of the population, posing significant economic and social challenges for the country in the years to come.

The reasons behind South Korea's low birth rate are multifaceted and include demanding work cultures, stagnant wages, rising living costs, changing attitudes towards marriage and family, and gender equality issues. Despite previous efforts, such as monetary incentives and social campaigns, to encourage childbirth, the decline in fertility has persisted, necessitating a more comprehensive and targeted approach.

President Yoon's proposal for a dedicated ministry reflects a recognition of the urgency and severity of the demographic crisis facing South Korea. By focusing on strategies to address the root causes of low birth rates, such as improving work-life balance, providing support for families, and combating social stigma, the new ministry aims to create a more conducive environment for raising children and starting families.

The initiative mirrors similar efforts undertaken in Japan, where Prime Minister Fumio Kishida established the Child and Families Agency to address declining birth rates and support family well-being. These measures highlight the growing recognition among policymakers in East Asia of the need for proactive interventions to address demographic challenges and ensure the long-term sustainability of society.