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South Koreans celebrate May as ‘family month’

The move came after the nation’s birth rate – the lowest in the world – showed a continuous decline
South Korean children march during a lantern parade as part of a 'Lotus Lantern Festival' to celebrate the upcoming Buddha's birthday, in Seoul on May 11.

South Korean children march during a lantern parade as part of a 'Lotus Lantern Festival' to celebrate the upcoming Buddha's birthday, in Seoul on May 11. (Photo: AFP)

Published: May 20, 2024 10:51 AM GMT
Updated: May 20, 2024 11:32 AM GMT

A South Korean mayor has hailed the government’s move to commemorate May as “family month” with events and celebrations that aim to tackle the country’s dismal birth rate.

Naju City Mayor Yoon Byung-tae welcomed the Month of the Family 2024 festivities organized by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, Jeonnam Times reported on May 20.

"I hope the family members had fun and made warm memories through this event. We will continue to implement various policies so that all Naju residents can lead a happy family life,” Yoon said.

The ministry’s move to organize the events came after South Korea’s birth rate – the lowest in the world – showed a continuous decline from 0.78 in 2022 to 0.72 in 2023.

The birth rate or fertility rate is defined as the number of children a woman is expected to have in her lifetime. For a population to remain stable this should be at 2.1 per woman.

The event held at Naju City saw the participation of more than 800 people including families from Jeolla Province and Naju citizens.

The festivities included youth cheerleading performances, taekwondo dances, and more than 20 experiential craft-based booths. The Naju city center also hosted a camping-cum-picnic event as part of the promotional campaign.

Meanwhile, Yangju City officials organized the family day event on May 18, Vision 21 News reported on May 20.

An unnamed city official hoped that the event was instrumental for people to “feel the importance of family, and to communicate and empathize with each other.”

"We will continue to strive to provide various family programs through the Yangju Family Center," the official told Vision 21.

A family member who participated in the event said the activities and discussions reminded them “of the meaning of family love."

The month of May in South Korea has significant importance on families and children with multiple days associated with various commemorations.

May 5 marks Children’s Day in the country since 1923 after the writer Bang Jung-hwan (1899 – 1931) a pioneer of Korean juvenile literature and a children's rights activist.

May 8 has been celebrated as Parents’ Day since 1973, which was before commemorated as Mothers’ Day.

Teachers’ Day is commemorated on May 15, and May 21 is celebrated as the "Day of the Married Couple."

The Catholic Church in Korea has played an active role in counteracting the demographic emergency that the country is facing and has launched numerous initiatives to tackle the issue, Fides, the Vatican’s missionary news service reported.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Seoul’s Committee for Life manages a special fund for single mothers to ensure a stable childcare environment or offers support to pregnant women at all levels.

Reportedly, the Minister of Gender Equality and Family, Shin Young-sook had publicly thanked the committee for “supporting families in need and contributing to improving family relationships and family culture,” Fides reported.

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