North Korea’s Kim calls for action on falling birth rates

North Korea’s Kim calls for action on falling birth rates
North Korea’s Kim calls for action on falling birth rates

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un attends the 5th National Meeting of Mothers in Pyongyang in this picture released by the Korean Central News Agency on December 4, 2023. — KCNA via Reuters pic

SEOUL, Dec 4 — North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has called for efforts to tackle the isolated country’s falling birth rates, describing the challenge as “everyone’s housekeeping”, state media KCNA reported on Monday.

Kim made the comments during an event for mothers in Pyongyang on Sunday.

“Preventing a decline in birth rates and good childcare are all of our housekeeping duties we need to handle while working with mothers,” Kim said at the event.

The United Nations Population Fund estimates that as of 2023 the fertility rate, or the average number of children being born to a woman in North Korea, stood at 1.8, amid an extended fall in the rate during recent decades.

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The fertility rate remains higher than in some of North Korea’s neighbours, which have been grappling with a similar downward trend.

South Korea saw its fertility rate drop to a record low of 0.78 last year, while Japan saw its figure drop to 1.26.

The dwindling birth rates in South Korea have caused a shortage of paediatricians, while one city is hosting matchmaking events to boost birth rates.

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North Korea, which has a population of about 25 million people, has in recent decades also had to contend with serious food shortages, including deadly famine in the 1990s, often a result of natural disasters such as floods damaging harvests.

The North Korean leader thanked mothers for their role in strengthening national power.

“I too always think about mothers when I have a hard time dealing with the party and the state’s work,” Kim said. — Reuters

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