Amid rapid urbanization and industrialization, South Korea has seen the country’s farming population more than halved over the past half century, government data showed.
The number of farm households in Korea stood at 1,021,000 as of Dec. 1, 2018, down 2.0 percent from a year earlier, according to the Statistics Korea on Wednesday. After hovering around 2.5 million in 1970, the number of farm households has continued its downward spiral over the five decades, except for 1983 and 2005, and dipped below 2 million and 1.5 million in 1984 and 1996, respectively. Over half century, the number of farm households contracted 60 percent.
Data suggested that the number would fall below 1 million this year, given that it has declined 2 percent yearly since 2016.
The population of the farm families also shrank from 3,063,000 to 2,314,900 over the same period.
The plunge in farming population in Korea largely owed to the rapid industrialization and urbanization that has swept the country in more than half century, triggering young people’s migration from rural community to cities. This phenomenon coincided with the so-called “Miracle on the Han River” that refers the period when Korea transformed from one of the world’s poorest countries after the 1950-53 Korean War to Asia’s fourth largest economy today.
The biggest age group in the farm households was those aged 70 or older, which grew to 744,900 from 657,500 a year earlier, accounting for 32.2 percent. Those aged 60 or older made up the second largest 26.7 percent with the number reaching 605,200 last year, slightly down from 621,600 a year earlier. Those aged between 50 and 59 comprised 17.7 percent of the total farm households while the remainder or those under 50 made up less than a quarter.
By Moon Jae-yong and Cho Jeehyun
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]