South Korea is reeling with severe demographic problems as the county grapples with a chronic decline in its birth rate.
The South Asian nation, with more than 51 million people, does not have enough youth to support the rapidly ageing population and contribute to continued economic growth. A similar issue is also being faced by many developed countries across Asia and the world.
Last month, Korea recorded the world’s lowest fertility rate with the number falling to a new low.
Amid the concerning demographic trends, Seoul has come up with a new provision to boost fertility rate.
South Korea is mulling a proposal to exempt men from the mandatory military service for those who have three or more babies before they turn 30, a report in Time said.
South Korea maintains a strict policy of mandatory military service, which requires all men between 18 and 28 years to serve in the armed forces for about 18 to 21 months.
The government hopes that the effort would boost the nation’s ailing birth rate. Cho Kyu-suk, a coordinator at the Seoul-based Center for Military Human Rights in Korea said the proposal would create an incentive for young men and also remove a barrier to more births.
Earlier this month, reports said that the ruling conservative People Power party is looking into unconventional means of increasing births. The report added that though these plans have not been finalised, they are currently being reviewed.
The number of South Koreans who got married last year hit a record low compounding demographic woe in a country already having the world’s lowest birth rate.
South Korea is grappling with a chronic decline in its birth rate, with the lowest-ever number of babies — 249,000 — born last year, breaking a previous record low in 2021.
However, the proposal has also received backlash from people who are calling it a move to promote more teenagers giving birth.
“Are you encouraging teenagers to give birth?” and “Who would have three children to avoid going to the military?” netizens responded, according to local media outlet Kukmin Ilbo.
Jeffrey Robertson, an associate professor from Yonsei University in Seoul, said that the move would bring unwanted costs to young people who would start a family.
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