Women in Seoul Not Having Kids

Article from Yonhap News:

Birth Rate Lower Than One Child Per Woman…Seoul’s Birth Rate the Lowest in the Nation

Among the 17 municipalities in Korea, Seoul comes in last for birth rate.

On September 4th, according to Statistic Korea’s “2013 Birth Rate Statistics,” the total birth rate in Seoul (the number of children that would be born to a woman if she were to live to the end of her childbearing years) was 0.968 children for every woman, compared to 1.187 nationally.

korea korean low birth rate

This is the lowest birth rate among the 17 municipalities in Korea, and is being called the “childless generation.”

Busan had the second lowest birth rate, at 1.049 children per woman. These municipalities also recorded low birth rates: Daegu (1.127), Gwangju (1.170), Incheon (1.195).

korea korean 2013 birth rate statistics

In contrast, the municipality with the highest birth rate was Cheonnam (1.518), followed by Chungnam (1.442), Sejong (1.435), Jeju (1.427), and Ulsan (1.391).

Seoul recorded a birth rate of 1.056 children per woman during the explosion of births in the “Year of the Golden Pig.” After that, birth rates experienced a decreasing trajectory, with rates of 1.010 in 2008, and 0.962 in 2009.

In 2010 (birth rate of 1.015), and 2011 (birth rate of 1.014), the birth rate hovered around 1 child per woman by a narrow margin. In 2012, in the “Black Dragon Year,” the birth rate rose to 1.059 children per woman, but last year, it fell again to 0 children per woman.

If you look closely at the statistics within Seoul, last year the birth rate in Jongro-gu was the lowest at 0.729 children per woman, followed by Gwanak-gu (0.825), and Gangnam-gu (0.842). Guro-gu had the highest birth rate, at 1.162 children per woman.

While the younger population’s average marriage age is densely concentrated, the reason for the low birth rate in Seoul is because there are many women, and there is a high proportion of late marriages and late births.

Seoul actually has the highest average age of women giving birth among the municipalities.

Lat year, the average age of women giving birth in Seoul was 32.47 compared to the national average of 31.84, a difference of more than 0.5 years.

In 2002, the average age of women giving birth in Seoul was the first to breach 30 years of age, with the average women’s age increasing by about 1 year every 5 years to 30.26 in 2003, 31.48 in 2008, and 32.47 in 2013.

The head of Seoul’s efforts to encourage higher birth rates, Jeon Su-ho, said, “The low birth rate phenomenon is due to the tendency for marriage to seem burdensome in the face of youth unemployment, and the fact that giving birth leads to complex problems like childcare, education, and housing.”

Comments from Naver:


It’s not that they don’t give birth. They can’t give birth because it’s hard for them to make a living.

hanx****[Responding to above]

That’s right, but it still hurts.

akrf****[Responding to anst****]

The women who have no talent should just go to the army. What do they expect in a country where gender discrimination is common… Eight or nine out of ten young women justify not doing military service using the excuse of childbearing…Let’s consider men’s rights, too.


They aren’t having kids because their financial ability doesn’t allow them.


Supporting children without any money is co-destruction. Live life wisely and use good judgement.


So Japan is not the only nation affected by low birth rates…We urgently need a policy to fix this.


I’m a mother who has a 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter within 7 years of marriage. I want to stop women who are thinking about having kids. With my last kid, I had to stop working, and sank into a deep depression. Before I had my kid, I had dreams to achieve, but after giving birth, the number of things I had to do increased, and I ended up having to give up my dream. The result is that I became depressed having to go through this life at home. When women give birth, they need to think about how if affects their ability to continue working. How many companies give maternity leave? The man will only help with housework and taking care of the baby during the honeymoon phase of marriage. Later on, he will be the one making excuses, and neglecting his family. We are still far from equality.

babr****[Responding to above]

Look at these Korean women’s dirty rotten minds upvoting a crazy aggro-pulling comment impersonating a housewife.

thwn****[Responding to babr****]

Housework is easy, but infant care is very difficult, so shouldn’t the husband help out? They all swear and say that it’s like kimchi.


The low birth rate is not the problem of single individuals, but a societal issue. Let’s discuss the birth rate after first creating a good environment for women to give birth and raise their children. Isn’t Korea a difficult place to live in?


In the 80’s, they asked everyone to have fewer children, but now look at the result.

Comments from Daum:


Trash journalists keep doing this sort of media play..How can we have kids when we become slaves if we give birth in this country.

슬픈거북이님[Responding to above]

It’s such a cowardly excuse…If you don’t want to have kids, don’t have them. People have different values, so they shouldn’t be criticized for it. They should honestly say they just want to live comfortably instead of taking care of kids. I don’t like seeing these kinds of excuses.


If this is a nation that has a good standard of living, why would we not have kids? The minimum wage is 5210 won per hour. Is that enough to raise a kid?

친일파알바는 영원한지옥님

The Saenuri Party is driving Korea to ruin.


Have kids, and have them die on the Sewol Ferry or in the army!


It’s hard to take care of myself alone in this world. How am I supposed to have kids?


For whom should we have kids?? To support old stinky bastards who vote for No. 1 [Saenuri]? Or to make slaves for the rich? It’s madness having a baby in a nation that drowns students in water and cannot reveal the truth.


Having a child in South Korea is opening the door to misery. The family’s life will suffer from paying the costs of hagwon, being an outcast, taxes, and living expenses from kindergarten to college. Investing so much money in raising your kids, only to lose them in the Cland and Sewol Ferry disasters is heartbreaking.

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  • Bryan Cheron

    I really don’t see why a low birth rate is a problem. Korea is a very crowded country, in Seoul especially, so what’s the problem? A low birth rate is unsustainable over many decades, but birth rates change over time anyway; the birth rate may go up on its own anyway by then. In the meantime, i.e. in the next few decades, I say it’s a good thing to have a low birth rate.

    • JJ

      I would say the main issue is that a good portion of Korea’s population will be the elderly, who do not contribute to the economy as much (ie. working and spending). So if people aren’t having kids, who’s going to be participating in the economy in the upcoming years? Who will be able to work?

      Of course, people will (usually) only have more kids if there is incentive to do so. But with expensive homes, expensive education,etc., I can see why many are choosing to just not have kids.

      Perhaps if there are changes (eg. some form of paid maternity leave mandatory for all companies), the birth rate will bounce back. For now though, I don’t see that happening.

      • Boris

        So if people aren’t having kids, who’s going to be participating in the economy in the upcoming years? Who will be able to work?


      • Chucky3176

        Get rid of the retirement age, make people work longer, and fight age and sex discriminations by employers. South Korea has severe age discriminations where it’s common for older men in their 50’s and even 40’s are forced to quit. Also, there’s a whole slew of women workers who are not effectively utilized. The compulsory military draft of young men is also part of the bigger problem. South Korea should reduce the military manpower by offering annual exemptions to those who choose to work in small/medium sized companies as manual labor workers, for a set minimum period of two to three years. It’s not that Korea doesn’t have enough manpower. They’re just not being utilized effectively.

    • RiseUp

      Women should have the choice to be single and childless. They should also have the right to have children if they choose and receive emotional support from society and their employers. Women in Korea do not have that choice compared to women in the West. Although more people are choosing not to marry and have a family, a large percentage of people still have the desire to reproduce. I find it sad that a woman who wants to have a child cannot do so in this society without giving up her job or is shunned and looked down upon if she chooses to have a child out of wedlock. If any country wants to remain relevant without bringing in a massive wave of immigrants, supporting women who want to have children should be a top priority.

    • ElectricTurtle

      Two words for you: Genkai Shuraku


    • I think if it forced the government to accept or even promote immigration (and thereby open up Korea socially… it might go a long way towards developing a real sense of tolerance which I think is currently lacking. Then again, it could make things worse…

  • Observer

    This is not due to one reason but rather many. Korea has developed so fast that the societal values haven’t caught up. To strengthen the birth rate, four things must happen. First, you need France-style social programs for families. This involves things like 유치원 for a maximum of 5,000 Won per day and government help to families for the first few years of a child’s life among other things. Second, you need a massive cultural shift. Husbands would have to start working in the home and parents would have to accept that everything doesn’t need to be massively competitive – therefore, stop sending kids to every educational program under the sun, trust the schools a little more and let them experience on their own. Thirdly, taxes would need to go up quite substantially to pay for this, fat chance since that would mean political suicide for the party that does it. Also, for taxes to go up without resentment, there would have to be greater trust between government and citizens. Trust which is fairly low at the moment. Lastly, stop dumping on unwed mothers. IT IS UTTERLY IRRELEVANT if someone has a child out of wedlock. Institute comprehensive programs to help these people raise their children and educate people in schools to abolish the stigmas that go with it.
    I don’t think any of these things are going to happen quickly if at all. However, the result will be a population of geezers in 30 years and no one to pay into healthcare or the NPS among other terrifying problems. Will Korea actually try to solve its demographic issues? Clock’s ticking….

    • firebert5

      “IT IS UTTERLY IRRELEVANT if someone has a child out of wedlock.”

      It is somewhat relevant when the number one reason cited for not having kids is they cannot afford to. Compare being a single parent to being a couple. Which category is more likely to be able to afford to properly raise a child? They may not all be able to, but couples are far more likely to be able to afford it than single parents.

      • Observer

        While I agree with you on a financial level, I was talking about the societal aspect of my argument. It is irrelevant from a demographic point of view if a child comes from marriage or single mothers. For a country that has a birth rate problem, they need to 1) stop sending children abroad 2) encourage domestic adoption, which is nigh impossible to do now 3) Enact policies to help single mothers and their children thrive and 4) Have an educational campaign to reduce the stigmas for women who choose to keep their children. Thousands of women feel they have no option for themselves or their children. Wouldn’t it help just a little to create some? Either the society has to look itself in the mirror, or in the long term it will die.

    • Chucky3176

      But the funny thing is that the people who are having kids in France are the immigrant families from Muslim countries like Algeria, or the countries in Africa. The native French population’s birth rate falls in line with the rest of Western world’s low birth rate. Likewise, also in Korea, the families who have mail order bride mothers, have crazy birth rates, something like 2.5 to 3 kids. The only answer then is to just import uneducated immigrants from poor countries and create new sets of economic underclasses. Yeah that would raise the birth rate.

      • takasar1

        doesnt make sense. the french fertility rate is 2.0, the ‘native’ fertility rate isn’t exactly 1.2. and European immigrants actually outnumber north african muslim immigrants by a hefty margin (2008). policy has had a greater impact than immigration.

      • Observer

        The French birth rate was raised from about 1.6 to over 2 in the span of about thirty years due to these policies. They were enacted due to some of the same complaints Korean women have now over raising children, namely – expenses, lack of help and reduced opportunities at work. While the North African demographic has a larger fecundity rate, the native birthrate has increased too due to these social policies. If having children equates to significantly burdening your own life, would you still do it? Remember that Koreans used to have big families due to societal poverty. With that gone and with children not wanting or willing to take care of their parents, what reason would a woman have to want a big family?

      • ashee

        “Import uneducated immigrants”?? What a pejorative way to talk about human beings!
        My parents left Tunisia and went to France as the country was looking for manual workers. This is an insult to call them as if they were low class people who deserve to die starving from not having enough food or be tortured in jail by the ex-dictatorial government supported by all “developed” countries, France included!
        Clearly, the uneducated person here is you.

        • lasolitaria

          Your parents were immigrants, check.
          Now were they educated or uneducated? Cause if they were educated, why were they emigrating to do manual labor in France?

          • ashee

            Did you miss the “ex-dictatorial government supported by all developed countries, France included” part?
            Do you understand what a dictatorial government is and what kind of life do people lead?
            Do you really think that you could get your way to live well in a corrupt country even if you were educated? Well hell no! In a dictatorial (and thus corrupted) country finding a job is only a matter of how much you have in your pocket to pay for a good network and not what your degree is!
            Now, as for France they still do not recognise diplomas from African countries so for exemple my uncle, who has an engineer dregree in Tunisia, would basically be a nobody there.

          • lasolitaria

            I happen to live in Colombia, which is rife with corruption and insecurity, so spare me the lecture about how hard life can be.

            Now, if France does not recognize diplomas from African countries and the only thing she deems African immigrants qualified to do is manual labor, then for all practical purposes your relatives’ degrees are worthless and from France’s viewpoint they’re effectively uneducated. So calling them “uneducated immigrants” makes perfect sense.

            In fact, a label like “uneducated immigrant” is just stating facts about a person. Whoever thinks it’s pejorative is not a rational but an emotional person. You’re just begging for a chance to be offended.

          • ashee

            Can’t I give my point of view of how unpleasant your “import uneducated immigrants” is? It is pejorative. End.
            Nothing to do with begging a chance of whatever or beeing “emotional”. Please…
            And my relative’s degree is NOT worthless thank you. It’s still valid in Tunisia and if he were to do a training upgrade here (formation de mise à niveau), his degree will then be valid but he still will have troubles with recruiters as he did most of his studies in North Africa.
            As for France, it recognises African people’s degrees in IT, mathematics, physics, etc… It’s very specific as is has to answers the country needs.

          • lasolitaria

            Your freedom to give your point of view does not preclude other people’s freedom to call you on your bullshit.

            Yes, your relative’s degree is worthless in France as of this moment according to what you yourself say, namely:
            1) that France does not recognize African diplomas;
            2) that it WILL BE valid -hence it isn’t- if and when he does another thing he hasn’t yet;
            3) even if he does he’ll still have troubles with it.
            That’s all I can do for you.
            Now, is his degree valid per se? Sure, it is… in Africa. He could always go back to Africa.

            Really, “End.”? You really think you can get away with ending a discussion merely by
            saying that something is “pejorative”? You really think you can shame
            the other party into shutting up by throwing around disqualifying
            adjectives? Hell no! Your reply is just emotional and silly, so you better come up with a valid argument anytime soon -because calling something “pejorative” is NOT an argument- or it’ll be I who will end this discussion out of sheer boredom.

          • ashee

            Please, don’t try to play the victim here, trying so hard to show that I can’t stand a comment while the one who really has a
            trouble with freedom of speach is you.
            “Bullshit”? “Silly”? I at least never used those words like you do. You are rude and agressive. And emotional.

            I have no time to waste with you, you’re are talking about something you have no knowledge in iand can’t support another point of view.

    • 于丹尼

      +100000 on the single mom point. Such a low birthrate and still exporting children.

    • lasolitaria

      Bullshit. The poorest countries, where 1) there is no “France-style social programs for families” or any kind of safety networks for mothers, 2) fathers work outside and mothers stay at home, 3) taxes are miserably wasted due to corruption and 4) single motherhood is frowned upon have the highest birthrates, while the richest where the opposite happens have the lowest. All facts point to women giving birth more often when things are more difficult and much less often the easier things become (and if you really think about it, it makes perfect sense why people have less children the more prosperous their environment is). But instead of checking the facts and asking why is that so, people like you keep pushing for policies based on how you’d like things to be (according to some
      sort of blueprint for feminist paradise) rather than on how they
      actually are. Wishful thinking at its best.

      • relmneiko

        lasolitaria, You’re completely missing the most important point: access to birth control. Women in developing countries have high birth rates because they don’t have access to birth control, and when they do get it things change drastically. Just look at the birth rates in, say, Bangladesh. It’s still a developing nation but women are having like 2.5 kids right now. Of course, sex ed goes hand in hand with that, as well as lower rates of infant mortality.

        Anyway, there are developed nations that have higher birth rates as a result of social policy. Just look at Iceland.

        • lasolitaria

          I think it’s you who are missing the point, because the lack of birth control is a direct consequence of, and is therefore included in, those unfavorable conditions, i.e. poverty, that I’m talking about. So you’re giving more power to my observation, which is that in countries where things are harder for women birth rates are higher than in countries where things are easier for women. I support making things easier for women to give birth (as long as it doesn’t mean that we all have to bear the financial burden for every strong independent woman’s own personal choices) but don’t try to dupe me into believing that it’ll be for the sake of increasing birth rates. Now, are you aware that your whole mention of birth control can be construed as implying the removal of birth control as a way to increase birth rates?

          Iceland’s population is too small to be of any relevance next to South Korea’s, so you’d rather go with a country like France. Yet French birth rates are not that spectacular and still far below those of the poor African countries at the top. So the French –as well as the Icelandic- experience only seems to prove that even if you enact those social policies you still get a meager increase compared with countries where there are no such policies. Clearly those policies aren’t as much of an effective way to strengthen birth rate as they’re touted to be.

          • Vorteksio3 .

            On one of the topics you said: ” Sexual attraction for attractive, nubile 15yo women with developed
            secondary sex characteristics is natural, logical, normal and healthy;
            red-blooded men feel it all the time. In comparison, sexual attraction
            for women in their 30s (what they want males to feel) is much less so.”

            This is just pure damn idiocy, and a ridiculous statement overall. 15 year old is still a child, no matter what you think. It is a child in physical, and every other sense. The idea of 15yo being a child is NOT a modern construct.

            You are a bad troll.

          • lasolitaria

            “Idiocy, ridiculous, a 15yo is a child, blah blah blah…”

            Not a single argument there, of course. Just a string of disqualifying statements attempting to pass as arguments.

            Allow me to respond in kind:

            No, a 15 yo is not a child.
            There’s no major physical or mental difference between a 15yo and a 18yo, yet no one would dare call the latter a child.
            There are countries where a 15yo can legally consent to sex.
            I can bet my right hand that several of your female ancestors got married, pregnant and/or gave birth at 15, probably earlier. Why? Because in a not so remote past a 15yo was a full-fledged woman. The idea that 15yos are children is juts about six decades old. In fact, the notion of “child” as we understand it started in the XVII century.

            Now get your head out of your ass.

          • Vorteksio3 .

            Yes, 15 yo is a child. Its a child on every level. There is a lot of differences between a 18 yo and a 15yo. You come off as a some kind of a pedo, by spewing all those ridiculous theories.

            Now get your head out of your ass.

  • SleepyBojio

    Same for any developed country.

  • FU

    What incentive is there to have a kid in Korea? Here’s the reality for a Korean woman:

    Spends her youth getting herself beautiful to find “the best husband possible i.e good salary and resources.” So they go out and get plastic surgeries to be pretty in hopes of getting a better husband.

    They meet said husband. They do the usual dating rituals. They get married. Any career that she may have wanted, despite her intelligence and skills set, is worth shit now because of how bias korean employers are to pregnant women. Pregnant women have a very difficult time keeping their jobs in Korea, they aren’t getting the maternity leave their country’s laws require, and are usually fired or asked to resign.

    So the woman stays home, has the kid, spends all day long at home, watching k dramas, talking to friends, going to coffee shops, but that shit gets really old and really boring after so long. Their husbands are working 12 hour days, plus the 3 hours after work for drinking time with the boss. They aren’t home helping their wife and when they are home, they’re too tired or just don’t feel it’s their place to do anything house or kid related. So the wife is left to herself all day long with a kid. There’s nothing stimulating about that.

    So the wife is just left to herself, watching tv and taking care of the kid. The husband is out drinking all the time, probably fucking around on her as well. She sits at home, mad about it, but there isn’t anything she can do. Her husband can go out, get drunk, fuck a girl from the office at the local love motel (those places are always super full at lunch times), and she’s home, waiting on him. So now she’s unhappy, what can she do? Divorce him? LOLOLOLOL yeah sure, because korea is SOOOOOOO awesome to single moms. No really, they’re treated like sub humans there and other korean men are incredibly bias against dating a single mom. The single moms in Korea are treated like pure trash. So unless she wants to be treated like a sub human, she stays with her husband.

    And it just goes on and on and on. That’s incredibly depressing.
    So I don’t blame women for not having kids, hell I don’t blame them for not even getting married. None of it favors them.

    • Chucky3176

      Obviously you’re misunderstanding the single mom situation. The stigma attached to single mom’s are usually reserved for unmarried young teen mothers who cannot support themselves. There’s no shame for Korean mom’s inheriting kids after a divorce, since divorces in Korea are pretty common. The second marriages for divorcees and widows/widowers are soaring in Korea. There’s another option right there.

  • Truck Furniture Maker

    Based on the comments from the men above I wouldn’t want to have kids with them either. (if I was a woman)

  • Name

    Korea doesn’t need more people. The country’s too crowded. This is good.

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