SOUTH KOREA - Can’t Afford Second Child

Arno Froese

Kim Young-ji, a working mother in Seoul, gave up having a second child. She had dreamed of having at least two babies, but it wasn’t long before she faced the harsh reality.

“From the day I came back to work after childcare leave, I started juggling between work and home,” she said.

It was her job to leave her baby son at a daycare center every morning. Since she comes home late in the evening, she had to find a babysitter to bring her son home from the daycare center. 

Upon arriving home, she had to prepare dinner and take care of her son. Her husband usually came home late at night like other Korean men, and was of little help.

“After paying a babysitter and part-time housekeeper, not much is left from my salary. However, I can’t quit my job since we have to pay our mortgage. We will need more money soon to send my son to a hagwon (private cram school). How could we dare have a second child?”

As Korean women such as Kim are shunning childbirth, the number of babies born in the second quarter totaled only 82,000, down 8.7 percent from a year ago. 

The country’s birthrate, or the number of live births per 1,000 women in the reproductive age or between the ages of 15 and 44 years, recorded 0.97 in the second quarter. 

It came as a shock since such low rates were witnessed only during war or in societies in rapid transition, such as Eastern European countries’ transition to capitalism from communism. Korea is the only country in the world with the figure below 1. 

The low birthrate is leading to an aging society. 

According to the 2017 census, senior citizens aged 65 or older made up 14.2 percent of the total population last year. The working age population, meanwhile, dropped by 116,000. It is expected that four out of 10 Koreans will be elderly in 2060.

Aging threatens the economy since production and consumption slow down while welfare spending snowballs. It will be difficult to pull up economic growth by injecting labor. The country’s growth rate is expected to fall to below 1 percent after 2026., 7 September 2018

Arno's commentary

This is the fruit of prosperity. Japan has for decades battled the aging of the nation, with not enough births to replace those that pass away. That is not unusual in developed countries, and will have to be addressed by the governments. Europe may be a model: Yoon Hong-sik, professor at Inha University, pointed to Sweden: “Sweden overcame the low birthrate in the 1930s by tackling difficulties that ordinary people faced in their life. It focused on improving the quality of life, and the birthrate started to rise as a result.” Sweden now has a birthrate of 1.85 per woman, followed by the USA with 1.82.

Slowly but surely, one notices that many people in different countries, particularly the prosperous ones, are beginning to serve their economy; instead of working for a living, they start living for the sake of their career. 

Here is what the Bible says: “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate” (Psalm 127:3-5).

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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