South Korea could see its population start falling sooner than expected.
According to a government official, the country's data agency Statistics Korea expects that the population will begin to decline before 2028.
The agency had said previously that the number of South Koreans would likely start shrinking around 2032, and the birthrate to fall substantially by 2028.
However, noting that the fertility rate in recent years has been sliding faster than expected, the official hinted that the population outlook will be adjusted in the agency's upcoming report this month.
A presidential committee on the birthrate estimates that around 325-thousand children were born last year, marking an all-time annual low, as the birthrate fell to zero.nine-seven -- for the first time, less than one child born per woman.
The country already has the lowest fertility rate among the 35 OECD member countries, whose average in 2017 was one.six-eight children.
Korea needs at least two.one children born per woman in order to retain its current population.
Some experts say the figuressuggest an even faster decline in the country's population, warning it could come within the next five years.
At the same time, the number of senior citizens is expected to grow dramatically as many baby boomers start retiring next year, a concern for the country's balance of population and productivity.
Oh Soo-young, Arirang News.