Accessibility links

Breaking News

South Korean Population Declined for First Time in 2020

People wearing face masks walk during a lunch break at Cheonggye stream in downtown Seoul, South Korea, Jan. 4, 2021.

New census data released Monday shows South Korea’s population falling for the first time in 2020, adding further worries in a nation with one of the lowest birth rates in the world.

South Korea had a total population of 51,829,023 people as of December 31, according to figures released by the Ministry of Interior and Safety. The data also reveals the country had a record low 275,815 births, compared to 307,764 deaths, a change of 3.1% from 2019.

The data also shows South Korea’s population is aging rapidly, with just over 30% of people in their 40s and 50s, and nearly a quarter 60 years old or older.

The ministry said South Korea’s declining birth rates shows there “needs to be a fundamental change in the governmental policies such as welfare, education, and national defense, accordingly."

Experts have pinpointed a number of reasons for the declining birth rate, including the high costs of living, and South Korea’s competitive society that prompts young adults to pursue and maintain high-paying careers at the expense of marriage and children.

President Moon Jae-in recently unveiled a set of initiatives aimed at boosting South Korea’s population, including offering cash bonuses for childbirth, monthly cash allowances for children and expanded benefits for families with multiple children.