SEOUL, South Korea – On Monday, official media reported that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had urged women to have more children in an effort to reverse the country’s declining birthrate and bolster the country’s standing in the international community.
A thorough analysis of North Korea’s population trends is highly challenging because of the country’s sparse disclosure of information; nonetheless, according to South Korea’s government, the North’s fertility rate has been falling consistently over the last decade. For a nation whose crippled economy is dependent on mobilised labor, that is a worrying development.
During her speech at South Korea’s first National Mothers Meeting in eleven years, Kim called for women to have more children.
As part of his introductory remarks, Kim emphasised the need to work together with women to address family matters such as halting the fall in birthrates and providing quality child care and education.
The total fertility rate in North Korea was 1.79 in 2022, down from 1.88 in 2014, according to the statistics agency of South Korea. This rate measures the average number of infants that a woman may anticipate having over her lifetime. Even still, the pace of fall is less severe than in South Korea, a more prosperous neighbor, where the fertility rate dropped to 0.78 in 2017 from 1.20 in 2014.
Several factors contribute to South Korea’s historically low fertility rate, which ranks among the lowest in the developed world. These include a crumbling job market, an extremely competitive school environment for children, historically inadequate child care assistance, and a male-centered corporate culture that makes it impossible for many women to balance careers and family.
Even though North Korea is one of the world’s poorest countries, some analysts claim that its demographic shift is mirroring that of wealthy nations.
Ahn Kyung-su, head of DPRKHEALTH.ORG, a website concentrating on health concerns in North Korea, stated, “Many families in North Korea also don’t intend to have more than one child these days as they know they need lots of money to raise their kids, send them to school, and help them get jobs.”
Speaking with several North Korean defectors, Ahn speculated that North Korean women may be less inclined to have children due to the smuggling of numerous South Korean dramas and movies depicting women in high social positions during the last 20 years.
In an effort to rein in its rapidly expanding population after World War II, North Korea launched a series of strict birth control programs in the 1970s and 1980s. The birth rate of the country saw a significant drop during a famine in the mid-1990s, which killed hundreds of thousands of people, according to research released in August by the Hyundai Research Institute at Seoul University.
North Korea may have challenges in reviving and expanding its industrial sector due to a lack of resources and technical improvements, according to the institute’s assessment.
North Korean official media has reported that this year the country instituted a program of incentives for families with three or more children. These benefits include preferential housing arrangements, state subsidies, free food, medication, and household items, and educational bonuses for youngsters.
There are 25.7 million people living in the North, according to South Korea’s statistics service. In research released in 2034, the Hyundai Institute predicted that North Korea’s population will begin to decline, with the country’s total population falling to 23.7 million by the year 2070.
Website director Ahn speculated that Kim Jong Un’s frequent public appearances beside his little daughter, Ju Ae, are likewise attempts to promote family values. Several authorities have speculated that the daughter is trying to establish her succession to the throne by making these public appearances.