The number of births in South Korea in November last year was the lowest on record for the month.
According to Statistics Korea on Wednesday, just 20,85 babies were born in November, down 15.3 percent on-year.
This marks the sharpest on-year fall for November since 2001, when the figure fell 18.4 percent.
At the same time, the number of deaths in November was up one percent on-year, to more than 25,600.
South Korea's births have been falling on-year for 60 consecutive months, and the number of deaths has outnumbered births for 13 months in a row.
There were fewer than 254-thousand childbirths in the first eleven months of last year, down 9.8 percent compared to the same period the previous year.
Even with December's numbers, the country will most likely have less than 300-thousand births over a whole year for the first time.
Statistics Korea says the current trend has little to do with the impact of COVID-19, which is only just starting to show in childbirth figures.
"The number of births has been on a decreasing trend since 1970. The number of marriages has been falling for 8 years now, and marriage age is being pushed back, resulting in fewer second and third children. The effects of the pandemic are beginning to show as well. With 10 months of pregnancy, the epidemic had little impact up until October, but we believe it's made the fall in November steeper."
The number of marriages in November was also down 11.3 percent on-year, to less than 18,200, hitting the lowest for the month since records began in 1981.
To tackle the population problem, the South Korean government will launch a third pan-governmental task force next month.
The task force will come up with detailed policies in the second quarter of this year,
aimed at preemptively responding to the shrinking population, regional population loss, and a super-aged society.
Kim Jae-hee, Arirang News.