The objective of this study is two-fold: one, to identify, in detail, Korea’s population problem; and two, to help Korean policymakers develop effective solutions to it.
Like the majority of developing countries around the world, South Korea has undergone unprecedented, tumultuous change since its decolonization. The post-colonial vicissitudes are apparent not only in Korean policies and society, but also in its demographics. The mortality rate, which reached 20 to 24 per 1,000 at the time of decolonization, began to plummet in the 1960s, reaching as low as 7 per 1,000 by 1975. The average Korean lifespan, in the meantime, rose from 43.3 years old to 68.1 years old over the same time period. The birth rate, however, remained at 42 per 1,000 into the early 1960s, before dropping to 24 per 1,000 by 1975, due to the government’s family planning policy and other social circumstances. The increased birth rate and decreased death rate has resulted in explosive growth in the Korean population over the last three decades. The National Census of 1975 revealed that the South Korean population has grown by more than 20 million since Korea’s liberation to over 35 million.
The growing population density is an especially serious problem for Korea. With 357 residents per square kilometer and 75 persons per every 3.3 square meters of arable land, South Korea is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, except for a few city states. Should Korea’s population continue to grow at the current pace, the country will soon be plagued with the host of social and economic problems that attend upon rapid and uncontrolled population growth.
It is therefore of paramount importance to devise countermeasures and solutions, first by accurately identifying the population problem Korea faces now, and next by deciding on the basic principles and aims of the policy solutions to be implemented.
There are a number of issues related to Korea’s current population problem. First is the need to achieve population stability as soon as possible by lowering the birth rate. Second, but as pressing as the first, is dealing with the concentration of population in a few large metropolitan areas. A general territorial development plan should be established with a view to inhibiting further population concentration in these metropolitan areas and to fostering new urban centers. Aside from these issues of quantity, there are also issues of quality. A growing population raises various issues of social development, including, but not limited to: public health and nutrition, public education, employment, social welfare, and social equality and women’s empowerment.
한국의 인구문제와 대책(Korea’s population problem and solutions)
인구정책세미나 종합보고서(Report on the population policy seminar)
|Series Title; No||연구총서|
|Subject Country||South Korea(Asia and Pacific)|
|Subject||Social Development < Population|
|Holding||KDI; KDI School|