Thursday, September 8, 2016
Population Problems in Korea
Writing in the Peace Weekly Peace Column the columnist reviews his life briefly and recalls while in elementary school there were so many students they had to have a morning and afternoon session.
In middle school, he remembers hearing the phrase, family planning repeatedly. During this period the slogan was two children no preference between boy or girl. Looking back on the internet we heard: 'birth planning now and stability in the future.' 'Let's be praiseworthy parents with contraception now.' It was at this time that we had the Mother and Child Health Law enacted. This was opposed by the Church for justifying abortion. Korea has the lowest birthrate of the developed countries.
When he married and began working in the middle 80s, generally the social climate was for one child. This was followed with many slogans: 'One child and a thrifty life.' 'One child is all we need to have everything.' Speaking frankly: 'two is too many.'
Vasectomies were pushed at the military reserve training areas. The surgery was free and you would be excused from training. Many young fathers fell easily into temptation. For those who wanted a boy child after having a girl we heard the slogan: 'a daughter well raised doesn't envy ten boys.'
These slogans continued into the 90s. The columnist mentions that at this time he had two daughters and a son and was looked upon strangely. At this time, those with a third child were not given the benefits of insurance except in some Catholic Hospitals.
20 to 30 years have passed and the situation has completely changed. This didn't happen overnight. The government is working to strengthen the family, to help those who have no children and want children, and other policies to overcome the low birth rate. However, the columnist feels that prescribing medicine for a patient without determining the reason for the problem is not wise.
Prescriptions have to fit the problem and in Korea, it is necessary to prepare the citizens to accept and use the prescriptions that are being offered. The big problem is life and the way we see it. If we see the problems of society only as economic we will be blind to the more important value of life. Economics are important in living a decent, dignified life. This can't be overlooked but when money becomes more important than life something is wrong. He feels that it is precisely here that Korean society has a problem.
For the last sixty year economics was the all important element and we have not changed in this evaluation: consequently, the value of life has to come from the rear to the front.
The editorial and front page of this issue were devoted to family. A large color picture of a family from Spain in which 18 children were born, 3 died of sickness, appears prominently on the front page. Hopefully, these efforts being made to see family in a new way will bring change.