The number of babies born in South Korea dropped to a record low in August, data showed Wednesday, underscoring the country's gloomy demographic situation with its chronically low birthrate.
A total of 22,291 babies were born in August, down 0.5 percent from a year earlier, according to the data compiled by Statistics Korea.
It marked the lowest tally for any August since the country began compiling related data in 1981.
South Korea has been struggling with a constant fall in childbirths as many young people give up getting married and having babies amid difficulties in getting a decent job, skyrocketing housing prices and changing social norms, experts said.
The country's total fertility rate -- the average number of children a woman bears in her lifetime -- hit a record low of 0.84 last year. It marked the third straight year that the rate was below 1 percent.
The number of deaths came to 25,821 in August, up 2.1 percent from a year earlier. It is the highest figure for any August ever, the data showed.
This resulted in the country's population decreasing by 3,530 in the month, marking the 22nd consecutive month of decline.
South Korea reported the first natural decline in population in 2020, as the number of deaths outpaced that of newborns.
Policymakers warned the country may face an "age quake" starting in 2030-40, an earthquakelike demographic shock from a fall in population and social aging, if it does not tackle demographic challenges in a timely manner.
Meanwhile, the number of people tying the knot in August fell 2.1 percent on-year to 14,720, which is the lowest for any August, and divorces inched down 0.9 percent to 8,376 in the month, the data showed.
"The number of marriages has been on a decline since 2012 due to the fall in the population of the age group, but the figure appears to have fallen further in August as more people have postponed or canceled their weddings amid the COVID-19 pandemic," Statistics Korea official Kim Soo-young said. (Yonhap)