SEJONG, June 30 (Korea Bizwire) – The number of South Korean urban households moving to rural areas jumped more than 10 percent in 2015 from a year earlier as the return-to-farm movement is becoming notable in the country, government data showed Thursday.
A total of 11,959 households living in the countryside came from cities last year, up 11.2 percent from 10,758 in 2014, according to the data compiled by Statistics Korea.
In fishing villages last year, meanwhile, 991 households had urban backgrounds, up 8.4 percent from a year earlier.
The average age of rural settlers was 54 years old last year, slightly up from the previous year’s 53.4 percent, with those in their 50s and 60s accounting for 65 percent of the total city-to-country migrating population.
The figure underscores the return-to-farm trend in South Korea, where a growing number urban dwellers choose to move to the countryside to spend their post-retirement period amid a rapidly aging society with a low birth rate.
The movement has also been encouraged by the government that gives incentives to attract more people to settle in rural communities which have been suffering from population declines stemming from decades-long urbanization and the low birth rate.
According to separate data, the combined number of South Koreans on farms plunged to 2.84 million in 2013 from 14.4 million in 1970.
The country’s fertility rate, or the average number of babies that a woman is projected to have during her lifetime, hit a record low of 1.08 in 2005 and has hovered around 1.2 in recent years.