Encountering the Extinction of Korea’s Rural Area
Encountering the Extinction of Korea’s Rural Area
  • Reporter Yoon Ju-Hwan
  • 승인 2024.02.03 15:04
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▲Population density of the Korea showing the concentration in the capital / The National Atlas of Korea
▲Population density of the Korea showing the concentration in the capital / The National Atlas of Korea

  Five years have passed since Korea’s population graph reached an apex and started to monotonically decrease. Korea’s population issue has been continuously addressed by both domestic and international experts and organizations. However, recently, the more serious problem is the extinction of areas ranging from county scale to megalopolitan. This is because lots of people gather around the capital area to find jobs, infrastucture, and other things which are relatively plentiful in Seoul. Due to these wholescale population shifts, some towns have started to show cavitation in population — this is a newly floating population issue. According to the report from the Korea Rural Economic Institute (KREI), the rural population has declined since 2021 and they expect the supply of services will also behave like this trend, forming a cycle where the low quality of service debases the quality of life. Each local government has attempted to figure out what the problem was and implemented a solution in accordance with these trends.
  The most contributory reason for depopulation is the exodus of the young in addition to the low birth rate. Most jobs are gathered in the capital area, so people leave for there to find a job and naturally settle down there. More than half of the foundation of production is flocked in the capital area and about 50% of the Korean population resides there. Recently, as more people moved near the capital, the population of Gyeonggi soared, which instigated the extinction of the countryside. Statistics Korea announced that people who moved in the second quarter were mostly occupied by people in their 20s and 30s and the net increase of population was in the capital cities except Seoul. It shows that lots of young people depart their place of birth to find jobs that are listed near the capital.
  Another problem concerned is the atrophy of the other major metropolitans; the population drop is observed even in the big cities. According to a report by Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade (KIET), some metropolitan cities like Busan were included in the category of extinction-concerned areas among noncapital regions. As such, the report showed that the existing depopulation phenomenon is expanding to not only rural areas but also megacities. The labor population is the most migrant class, and the reason is the same as those in the rural areas aforementioned. Overall, the sharp capital-centralization and lack of worthy job opportunities sent droves of young people to the capital region.
  This brink of extinction is problematic in that it could call the wind of decrescendo of the local area in terms of economy, infrastructure like medical facilities, and education. People leave because of the current poor conditions, which actually makes the situation worse. The labor populations are directly connected to the consuming one, and the more augmented breakaway of them triggers the more attenuation of the community. The Presidential Committee for Balanced National Development illustrated that the local shrinkage causes a vicious circle by weakening the various social facilities and accelerating outmigration. Consumption is also debilitated, and it cannot be regenerated without innovative means once the decline is initiated.
  Education is no exception in this situation. One campus plays a critical role in the local area in terms of economy, culture, jobs, and other aspects of life. As young people move to other cities, students also do and it makes the local university hard to sustain their existence. From 2021, the number of students available to enter the college has been short of the total recruitment of the college and this is remarkable in local universities — about 85% of the colleges which have a competition rate of less than 6:1 are in the local cities in 2023. Just as the population of metropolitan cities is declining, large provincial national universities are also facing a population decline crisis. The intrinsic rationale of the local universities crisis is the lack of jobs, and many organizations claim that jobs should be prioritized.
  In order to overthrow this facet, the government and each local entity introduced diverse policies, for example, the student exchange program by Cheontae Elementary School in Hwasun County. It provides students from Seoul with an opportunity to be educated in field-focused learning for several months. As well, Hwasun ran a public housing project to increase the population from a sustainable perspective. Although there are still many issues to be solved to prevent the outflow of local populations, each provincial government is expected to continue to expand various policies to attract residents.