South Korea has raised concerns regarding its future demographics, with the government estimating that the Korean population could be extinct by 2750.
Already by 2045, the average age of the South Korean population could be as high as 50.
Although other developed countries see similar demographic changes, South Korea’s birth rate has already fallen to less than one child per woman.
While this can be attributed to individuals choosing to have fewer babies, there has been rising concern over infertility issues in both men and women.
Inevitably, people will encounter fertility problems as they age, and with the average age of marriage for Koreans increasing, this has led to a growing number of cases.
According to the UN Population Fund, the average age women in Korea have their first child is 32.3 which is more than four years older than the world average.
Decreased ovarian function is associated with age and becomes commonly seen in women over the age of 35. This means a decrease in the egg count which makes the chance of conceiving more challenging.
With Koreans also getting married later on average, there has been an increasing number of women who have chosen to freeze their eggs.
The number of women applying for egg freezing rose from less than 100 in 2011 to 1,786 in 2017.
Researchers have attributed this to a rise in women who have not yet found a partner but don’t want to risk facing infertility if they do get married.
Women have been encouraged to freeze their eggs before they reach 35 so that there will be a higher chance of collecting high-quality eggs. Hence, many young Korean women are choosing to go through with this route.
It has been a procedure that has also been advised by doctors who encourage women to undergo egg freezing at their most fertile age.
Similarly, an increasing number of men are choosing to have their sperm frozen, as the number of men with infertility cases has doubled over the last ten years.
Several Korean celebrities have been candid about having their eggs frozen, including actress Ham So-won who had the procedure done in her early forties.
This has given Korean women greater flexibility in their future, with some choosing to freeze their eggs in their twenties.
This has accommodated marriages later in life, giving older women the chance to become mothers when they choose to do so.
In 2012, a 57-year-old woman was able to give birth to twins, despite having gone through menopause.
With the changing demographics of the Korean population, this will undoubtedly be a topic that will gain more discussion.