Cheju (AsiaNews) -
The demographic winter that has enveloped Korea "has been caused by
government policies over the years. And now, thanks to the artificial birth
control that has been imposed for decades, we have ended up in a disaster
national". This is the comment of,
Msgr . Peter Kang U-il, Bishop of Cheju and President of the Bishops'
Conference of Korea given to AsiaNews, regarding recent data relating to
the ongoing decline in birth rates in the country.
The issue is a very serious one. South Korea has one of the lowest birth rates in the world (around 1.05 %) and the data confirms that the birth rate continues to decline. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the trend has been negative for 13 consecutive months and continues to fall.
Msgr. Kang says "many Koreans now feel that it will be a serious challenge to Korea. A nationwide campaign and continuous effort are needed to recover the birth rate to a degree that this society could work out. Otherwise Korea will hardly be able to continue its development in every aspect of life".
For the first time in decades the prelate's prediction is even shared by a government authority. In July of 2012, the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs acknowledged the problem and asked the government to intervene with policies to support the family. According to analysts, "too many people shy away from the idea of marriage and having children. The government must put a new system in place that provides health care and insurance to those who decide to start a family. We also need a change of mentality, which is perhaps the most worrying factor". The appeal has was repeated in recent days by the same Institute, commenting on the newly released statistics.
The South Korean Catholic Church has always been at the forefront in the battle for life. Inspired by the testimony of the late Cardinal Kim, who brought the issue to the forefront of the bishop's national pastoral agenda. The Catholic community promotes awareness-raising activities , family support programs and demonstrations against tax policies which effectively penalize large families. For 2014 , the Church launched a "Lenten Prayer for Life", a chain of rosaries recited with the intention that the Act on the health of mother and child (which in fact promotes abortion) be abolished .