Pandemic Sends Koreans Back to the Farm

  • By Kim Choong-ryung

    December 21, 2021 08:44

    Korea's ever-dwindling farming population rebounded in 2020 as many people returned from big cities in the coronavirus pandemic. According to Statistics Korea, the population in rural areas stood at 2.31 million last year, up 3.1 percent from a year earlier, and the number of farming households reached 1.04 million, up 2.8 percent.

    The figures reflect households that cultivate more than 1,000 sq.m. of farmland or earn more than W1.2 million per year from sales of farm products (US$1=W1,193). It is the first time in 15 years since 2005 that the number of farming households has increased.

    The Korea Rural Economic Institute attributes the trend to skyrocketing real-estate prices in the cities and the pandemic. Some 494,569 people moved to rural areas in 2020, up 7.4 percent from the previous year.

    KREI believes that many urban dwellers decided to move to the countryside after losing their jobs or to simply escape crowded cities where they are vulnerable to COVID-19 infection. It also cited a spike in housing prices in cities.

    Other factors are the growing number of baby boomers born between 1955 and 1963 who are retiring and going back to their villages, and living conditions in rural areas have become less inconvenient thanks to IT technology.

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