SEOUL, Jan. 10 (Korea Bizwire) — A low birthrate and aging population are creating a demographic cliff, pushing rural and fishing villages to the brink of extinction.
A rural village in Goesan County, North Chungcheong Province is home to 45 households, all of which work as farmers. There are three or four farmers in their 50s, and the rest of the residents are in their 60s or older.
There are seniors in their 80s who continue to work in the field.
“There are only old people in rural villages. The cost of labor has become too high, so we pretty much earn nothing,” said Lee Kyu-dong, a 66-year-old farmer who has grown apples and corn for 40 years in the village.
“Foreign workers are the only ones making money here.”
In a neighboring village, 10 out of 80 households are growing corn, most of whom are in their 50s or 60s.
The demographic cliff also poses a problem in fishing villages.
Most of the fishermen working on fishing boats and trap fishery businesses at Daecheon Port in Boryeong, South Chungcheong Province, are in their 60s or 70s. Only 30 percent of them are under 50 years old.
“We live in a harsh environment, and the younger generation is leaving town to escape that environment. Our village is only getting smaller,” said Kim Jeong-jae, a 48-year-old captain of a fishing boat.
“Those who have returned to start a fishery business end up quitting in a few years, realizing they can’t earn as much as they’ve invested.”
Statistics Korea showed last year that farmers in their 60s or higher accounted for 62.4 percent (1.38 million) of all farming households.
H. M. Kang (firstname.lastname@example.org)