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Yoon to create new senior secretary position to tackle low birthrate
2024-05-17
President Yoon Suk Yeol ordered aides to establish a new senior presidential secretary position tackling Korea's low birthrate, the presidential office said on Monday.
 
In a meeting with senior secretaries earlier that morning, Yoon ordered preparations for the establishment of a new office for a senior secretary to address the low birthrate, according to presidential spokesperson Kim Soo-kyung.
 
This comes after Yoon vowed to create a new ministry to manage Korea's low birthrate issue during a press conference marking his second year in office last Thursday.

"We will fully mobilize all capabilities of the state to overcome the low birthrate, which can be considered a national emergency," Yoon said in the rare question-and-answer session with reporters.
 
This plan would elevate the Presidential Committee on Ageing Society and Population Policy, which has been overseeing the issue, but faced limited authority to carry out its mission.
 
Over the years, the government has had difficulty coming up with and consolidating effective policies to boost the country's chronically low fertility rate, as the task has been delegated to different ministries that have struggled to come up with a cohesive and feasible plan.  
 
According to a presidential official Monday, the need to create a new low birthrate office was proposed as the office of senior presidential secretary for social affairs, which currently oversees the matter, already has enough tasks on its plate.  
 
The country's total fertility rate reached a record low of 0.72 in 2023, despite Korea's attempts to tackle the problem for years.  
 
Creating a new ministry will require a revision of the Government Organization Act and parliamentary approval in a National Assembly controlled by the liberal Democratic Party (DP).  
 
Nonetheless, plans for the launch of a birthrate ministry generally has bipartisan support, unlike other issues. DP floor leader Park Chan-dae even welcomed the president's announcement, saying his party will review ways to cooperate.
 
"We agree with the plan to create a ministry dedicated to the low birthrate issue," Park said on Thursday. "We will proactively review whether there is anything we can cooperate with as the rivaling party, and whether there is anything we can do together with the government and the People Power Party (PPP)."
 
Yoon, following his party's April 10 general election defeat, has vowed to work to cooperate and communicate better with political opponents. As both sides of the political aisle made pledges regarding establishing some sort of new ministry to handle the low birthrate issue, it is seen as an issue that the DP and PPP could reach a certain degree of consensus on.
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