South Korea: the world's worst birth dearth

Louis T. March
March 21, 2022
Reproduced with Permission

As a young'un, whenever some person or group of folks did something that struck me as peculiar, my mother, a teacher and lady of inestimable patience, would explain and say, "You know, son, people are funny." Ain't that the truth!

Well, there's a bunch of folks halfway round the world (from me) that are doing something way peculiar - just downright weird. They're committing national suicide. This is not like individual suicide - sudden, deliberate, and unexpected. This is a collective hari-kari, a passive, palpably predictable process playing out over generations.

We're talking about South Korea. Visitors to that Asian dynamo consistently come home with a fondness for the Koreans. They are nice to visitors and take good care of themselves. There is very little poverty. But they are willfully obliterating, via malign neglect, the future of their very own families and the nation those families forged.

They are hardly having children, and their numbers are starting to drop like a stone.

Last year yours truly reported on South Korea .

The big story then was that they had the lowest fertility rate on the planet, a stunning 0.84. (replacement-level being 2.1). Some in mainstream media posited that Covid, recession and/or climate change was the reason. Wrong.

So, revisiting the South Korean situation is in order. Why? Because the latest news from Statistics Korea is that South Korea has broken its own record with a 2021 fertility rate of 0.81. Scary. This marks their fourth straight year of less than 1.0 fertility!

The Korea Times called it a "bleak demographic situation." Talk about understatement! Sounds like my Virginia ancestors referring to the Civil War as "the late unpleasantness." Where's the alarm? Does anyone care enough to get bent out of shape and at least try to rouse the masses about their coming extinction?

Or do the people simply not care that their kith and kin, their very kind, will disappear from the face of the earth - barring a severe societal course correction?



South Koreans are industrious. They're part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), that club of uber-productive economies that accounts for well north of 60 percent of global GDP. How long they can continue as an economic powerhouse remains to be seen. That's because the birth dearth shrinks the workforce. In 2020 there were 37.4 million South Koreans of working age (15 to 64), or 72.4 percent of the total population. There were workers aplenty to support dependent retirees and children. But Statistics Korea has issued a grim forecast: If the current pattern of fertility (or lack thereof) holds, South Korea's working age population will be only 17.4 million by 2070, a 53.5 percent decrease in just 50 years.

Nobody is apoplectic about it. They are insufferably insouciant. The "who cares?" attitude prevails. Sheer anomie.

When I see highly intelligent people willfully consigning themselves to the dustbin of history, it puzzles me. Are we missing something? Per The World Atlas (generally agreed upon):

Humans and their ancestors have been walking the planet for about 6 million years. Homo sapiens, who are the modern form of humans evolved 300,000 years ago from Homo erectus. Human civilizations started forming around 6,000 years ago.

That makes me wonder - is civilization an aberration for humanity? Does our higher civilization, with all its high-dollar baubles, mean the end of humanity? Yes, civilizations rise and fall. Wars, plagues and ginormous natural disasters have reduced populations before. But as far as we know, the last 70 years is the first time that populations have begun to wither away from lack of offspring. The Lord works in mysterious ways. What does Mother Nature know about this that we don't?

Back to South Korea. Their record-breaking low fertility has been a long time coming. Demographers are not surprised. Here are the grisly stats: