October 28, 2020 08:37
The coronavirus epidemic has deeply impacted all walks of life, but most dramatically marriage and childbirth.
According to Statistics Korea, the number of weddings in April, when the lockdown started, stood at just 15,670, down by around 3,300 compared to the average of 19,000 from January to March.
Compared to April of 2019, it plummeted more than 20 percent. The same happened in May, which is traditionally the high season for weddings.
Weddings were not simply postponed, they never happened at all. In June and July they also declined 95 and 89 percent.
Delayed weddings not only cause stress for the couples involved but also have a negative impact on the economy. Wedding halls, beauty salons and other related businesses are impacted severely, while demand for products favored by newlyweds also takes a heavy hit.
Korea can be particularly vulnerable to such changes because the already low birthrate could drop even faster. Very few women in Korea have children out of wedlock, so weddings are closely related to childbirth.
Korea's fertility rate fell to a record-low 0.84 child per woman in the second quarter of this year and is dropping faster than expected. Before the epidemic, Statistics Korea projected the country's birthrate to bottom out this year and rebound next year. But that projection is now highly likely to be wrong.
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