ASIA/SOUTH KOREA - “Family Month: The focus is on the decline in birth rates

Friday, 17 May 2024 family   birth   children  

Seoul (Agenzia Fides) - The issue of the decline in birth rates is at the heart of the "Month of the Family 2024" organized by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family. Traditionally, May is Family Month in Korea, a time of family-related festivals and celebrations that are deeply rooted in Korean cultural heritage. May 5 marks "Children's Day", named after the writer Bang Jung-hwan and introduced in 1923, at a time when few children had access to education. On May 8th, however, parents are celebrated, a holiday that was originally Mother's Day and was renamed "Parents' Day" in 1973. Parents, and older people in general, are seen as role models for future generations in society. Another particularly heartfelt holiday in the month is "Teachers' Day", on May 15th: it celebrates people who are considered fundamental to the education and growth of people. On this day, groups of students in all schools organize thanksgiving events and write letters to their teachers. May 21st is the "Day of the Married Couple", the day of married couples, of two individuals who start a family: a day that aims to bring back the importance of marital relationships so that the family can grow in harmony. At a time marked by these celebrations, the country faces a serious problem: South Korea has the lowest birth rate in the world, and it continues to fall, breaking its own record year after year. According to official data, the rate will fall by another 8% by 2023 to 0.72, a number that indicates how many children a woman will have in her lifetime. For the population to remain stable, this number would have to be 2.1. If this trend continues, Korea's population is expected to halve by the year 2100, prompting talk of a "national emergency" in the country. There is a debate at political and media levels about analyzes and measures to reverse this worrying development. To this end, South Korea's new president, Yoon Suk Yeol, has declared his intention to create a new ministry to address the emergency of a profound demographic crisis. The Catholic Church in Korea also wants to actively counteract the social and cultural emergency and has launched numerous initiatives in this regard. In Seoul, the Catholic "Committee for Life" is active and promotes initiatives to support family policy. For example, the committee manages a special fund for single mothers to ensure a stable childcare environment or offers support to pregnant women at all levels. The Minister for Family Affairs also publicly thanked the committee for “supporting families in need and contributing to improving family relationships and family culture.” (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 17/5/2024)