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Marriage & Divorce Rates by Seoul District in 2020

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An overview of marriage and divorce in Seoul, Korea according to city district in 2019-2020.

The big picture: With a rapidly aging population and dwindling birth rate, promoting marriage and birthrates have become a key focus for the Korean government. 

Driving the news: South Korea, from a population view, is dying. Last month, South Korea reported its first ever natural decline in population, as total deaths outstripped that of newborns.

  • Korea has long struggled with a rapidly aging population, with those aged 65 or older accounting for greater than 15% of the total population of Korea.
  • Divorce is increasing, making matters worse. What was previously a cultural taboo has broken out into pop culture with TV shows aptly named “We Got Divorced”. 

As a result: Koreans recorded their lowest marriage rate ever in 2020 for the January-July period, further exacerbated by COVID-19.

Between the lines: Korean women have long complained of gender bias in the workplace and even among their own families, as patriarchal traditions continue to place strict expectations on marriage life and concepts of motherhood. 

  • Hyunjoo Park, Korean Foundation Professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania explains: “In societies with strong gender-based divisions of labor like South Korea, highly educated women tend to want a partner with equal or more education than themselves.”

The challenge: South Korea, both its people and government, faces a tremendous, existential challenge of statistically certain extinction if it cannot solve its family planning issues. 

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