Despite a slowly rising birthrate, the total fertility rate in Korea remains exceptionally low. Statistics Korea on Monday said 484,600 babies were born across the country in 2012, up 2.8 percent from 2011.
The total fertility rate, the number of children that would be born to a woman in her lifetime, is 1.297, an all-time high since 2001 and the third consecutive rise since 2010.
The birthrate inched up because 2012 was the "Year of the Black Dragon," which was believed to be auspicious for marriage and childbirth, and because children of the populous baby-boomer generation, reached their marriageable early 30s, Statistics Korea speculates.
2012 was also the year when most of those who got married in the equally auspicious "Year of the Golden Pig" had a second child. The increase was also helped by some government support for childbirth.
But Korea's birthrate remains at the bottom in international comparison. Hungary at 1.24 is the only OECD member with a lower fertility rate. The average OECD rate is 1.7.
The country's birthrate is likely to decline again this year. The number of babies born from January until May this year stood at 193,100, down 7 percent on-year.