South Korea is facing a serious issue with its population as it reached a record-low birthrate of 0.70 in the second quarter of 2023 (a birthrate of 2.1 is needed for a stable population). This alarming statistic highlights a long-standing problem for the country — a continuous drop in childbirth rates, putting South Korea in the unfortunate position of having the lowest birth rate in the world.
This alarming trend is indicative of a broader societal shift, where an increasing number of young individuals are choosing to forgo the traditional paths of marriage and parenthood. The reasons behind this societal transformation are multifaceted, with factors such as economic pressures, changing gender roles, and pursuing personal and professional aspirations playing significant roles.
To combat the decreasing birthrate, one local government in Seongnam City has taken their own measures.
The city planned a mass matchmaking event where 100 men and women gathered in hopes of finding their partners. Men and women in their 20s and 30s participated in the event that provided wine, chocolates, games, and other free services including background checks of the participating singles.
Many participants expressed satisfaction with the mass matchmaking city event. One participant stated the event saved him the cost of joining other social events or signing up for professional dating agencies.
However, according to reports by Reuters, "The South Korean capital Seoul had considered a similar event but put the plan on hold after facing criticism that it would be a waste of taxpayers' money that failed to tackle the reasons behind people opting not to marry and have babies - most notably the sky-high costs of housing and education."
Some K-netizens stated that instead of matchmaking, South Korea needs to take on the critical challenge of its escalating cost of living, which profoundly impacts its citizens. Of particular concern is the housing market, where prices have soared, making affordable living a significant hurdle for many, leading many to not want to start a family.
They also stated that enhancing maternal leave policies is essential in this regard. Currently, the duration and compensation during maternity leave may not be sufficient to encourage childbirth. By extending maternity leave and ensuring adequate financial support during this period, South Korea can alleviate some of the burdens on expecting and new mothers.
Additionally, other measures could include more robust family support systems, like access to quality childcare and educational resources. These initiatives would support families and help women balance their careers and motherhood more effectively.