South Korea's Yoon says efforts to improve people's lives had fallen short

Reuters | Updated: 09-05-2024 07:01 IST | Created: 09-05-2024 07:01 IST
South Korea's Yoon says efforts to improve people's lives had fallen short

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said on Thursday his government's efforts to improve people's lives had fallen short, as he held a rare news conference to mark his first two years in office. Yoon also said a new government ministry will be created to address the country's record low birth rate and fast ageing society, calling it a "national emergency."

"We will utilize all available national capabilities to overcome the low birth rate, which can only be said to be a national emergency," he said in opening remarks delivered from his office, behind a plaque which read "The Buck Stops Here." Yoon's comments in his first news conference in 21 months come after the heavy defeat of his People Power Party in an April 10 vote, which prompted calls for a change in his leadership style and policy direction to salvage a presidency not yet at the halfway point.

The creation of the ministry to address a fast declining and ageing population comes after the country's fertility rate, already the world's lowest, continued its dramatic decline in 2023, as women concerned about career advancement and the financial cost of raising children decided to delay childbirth or to not have babies. The average number of expected babies for a South Korean woman during her reproductive life fell to a record low of 0.72 from 0.78 in 2022, data from Statistics Korea showed.

That is far below the rate of 2.1 per woman needed for a steady population and the rate of 1.24 in 2015 when concerns about issues such as housing and education costs were lower.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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