February 15, 2023 08:35
Some 147 elementary schools in Korea have no new students this year as the young population dwindles, up from 121 last year.
Rural areas are emptying out faster. North Gyeongsang Province topped the list with 32 elementary schools with no first graders, followed by South Jeolla Province (29), North Jeolla Province (20), Gangwon Province (20), South Gyeongsang Province (18), North Chungcheong Province (12), South Chungcheong Province (nine), Gyeonggi Province (three) and Incheon (two). Busan and Jeju Island each have one.
According to the Education Ministry, there are 379,373 first graders this year, 10 percent fewer than second graders. And 140 elementary schools will welcome just one first grader this year, up from 136 in 2022.
Middle and high schools are also emptying. Three middle schools in North Jeolla Province, two in South Chungcheong Province and one each in North Chungcheong and South Jeolla provinces are set to welcome no new students this year.
The total number of schoolchildren across the nation is expected to fall from 5.28 million last year to 4.25 million in 2029.
Big cities are no exception. In Seoul, Dobong High School in the northeastern part of the capital will become the first general high school in the city to close down next year. Dobong is the district suffering the biggest decline in residents, who have dwindled by 15.4 percent since 2010. The number of new students at Dobong High School declined from 213 to 45 over the period.
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