South Korea is known for its famous cuisine, music, movies, and giant technology companies. The world is grooving to its K-pop songs and finding inspiration from them. It is one of the four Asian tigers which had emerged successfully from the industrial revolution and it had produced some of the largest organisations like Samsung, Hyundai, Kia Motors, and Hybe Corporation. In the present day, South Korea has become an integral part of the beauty and fashion industries.
So, what happened to this fastest-growing developed country’s population? The country recorded a decline in its population in 2021. The current population is 51.78 million and it is expected to fall below 38 million in 2070. The country has a more aged population than youth which is likely to be 20% in 2025. Every 100 working-age population has to support 39 aged population which will increase in the future.
The main reasons for this problem are the low birth rate as people in South Korea don’t want to get married. Especially many women aren’t ready to have a child as it would affect their career progress and they don’t want to make their already difficult economic lifestyle more arduous. The fertility rate of women is alarmingly less than 1 percent. This is one of the reasons why death rates are more than childbirth rates. The work environment and society have turned toxic which has led the country to have the highest suicide rates among the 38 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Mental health support in South Korea is meagre and the public doesn’t have access to the best counsellor or therapist. This topic of mental health is still considered taboo and only 4 in 10 adults who are suffering from it are receiving help. The youth of the country are isolating themselves from society due to loneliness and depression. As an initiative to improve the situation, the Government is paying its youth for mental health, socialising, fertility treatments, and medical expenses but the cost of living is very high with a high unemployment rate. The Economic growth rate has also declined as the inflow of foreigners has dropped due to the pandemic.
Japan is also in a similar situation to South Korea. Japan and Italy’s population is speculated to be halved by the end of the 21st century. The old population of Japan would account for 40% in 2040. With China's one-child policy backfiring and its elderly population growing, the country is experiencing a demographic crisis. But other countries like India, it is on their path to becoming the most populated country in the mid of 2023 with more than 50% of its population being youth.
Edited by Fahima Afrin
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