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South Korea: super subway to increase birth rate

South Korea: super subway to increase birth rate

The government hopes the planned high-speed metro will encourage more young people in the suburbs of the city, which has a population of about ten million, to have children. President Yoon Suk-yu said shorter travel times will allow people to “spend more time with their families in the morning and evening.”

For the Great Train eXpress (GTX), six lines are scheduled to be built by 2035, connecting Seoul and several outlying areas. Minister Park Sang-woo told Reuters that the GTX will allow young people to consider a home away from the capital without having to commute for hours. “With a two-hour flight, how are you supposed to find time for your kids on the way home? “The idea is to give people more free time after work.” They can use the time they save for their families.

Reuters/Yonhap News Agency

Cramped apartments, long distances to work

Many young couples in South Korea cited long commutes and cramped and expensive apartments in the Seoul metropolitan area as their main reasons for not getting married and starting a family. Half of South Koreans live in the capital region, which has the lowest birth rate in the country.

The portion of the first line opened by the president aims to reduce travel time between Seoul's Soseo district and the satellite city of Dongtan from the current 80 minutes by bus to 19 minutes by the new subway. The GTX is designed to be one of the fastest subway systems in the world, with trains expected to run at top speeds of 180 km/h.

Workers in the GTX-A tunnel during construction work

imago/newscom/yonhap news

The new subway aims to better connect the satellite cities to central Seoul

Deaths are much more than births

In 2023, the country recorded a natural decline in population for the fourth year in a row. According to Statistics Korea, the number of deaths once again exceeded the number of births last year. About 230,000 babies were born, a record low. Meanwhile, more than 352 thousand people died. The authority estimated the population at about 51.75 million people.

The reasons for low values ​​are varied. According to experts, these include, among others, economic insecurity, high housing and education costs, as well as the gender disadvantage experienced by women.

South Korea votes in April

Conservative President Yoon is in the middle of the heated phase of the election campaign and must also try to score points with young voters. The April 10 election in Asia's fourth-largest economy is also seen as an interim assessment of his first term in office. Opinion polls indicate the possibility of a close race between the two largest parties. However, small parties also have a good chance of gaining significant votes from larger parties. According to the State Election Commission, more than 950 candidates and 38 parties have registered for the elections. 300 states will be awarded.

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