The number of people aged over 65 years in South Korea climbed to a new high last year, breaching the 8 million mark for the first time in history, while the country's overall population grew at the slowest pace ever, data showed Sunday.
The country's overall population remained nearly unchanged at a little less than 51.85 million as of end-December, up only 23,802 or 0.05 percent from a year earlier, marking the slowest on-year gain since the country began publishing related data in 2008, according to the data from the Ministry of the Interior and Safety.
The growth rate also marked a sharp drop from the year before when the population increase dipped below the 0.1 percent mark for the first time to 0.09 percent.
What is concerning is that the aged population, or people aged 65 years or older, continued to increase rapidly, adding 376,507 from a year earlier to over 8.02 million as of end-2019.
South Korea is one of the world's fastest aging societies with the proportion of people aged 65 years or older out of the entire population coming to 14.2 percent in 2018, making the country an "aged society."
As of end-2019, the percentage shot up to 15.5, exceeding an earlier estimate by the Bank of Korea of 14.9 percent.
The country also continues to suffer from one of the world's lowest birthrates, which is feared to cause population reductions in the near future.
In 2019, the number of people aged 14 years or less dropped by more than 161,000 from a year earlier, with the number of working age population, or those aged between 15 years and 64 years, also falling by more than 190,000 over the cited period, according to the ministry data.
The number of people aged 14 years or less came to 6.46 million, accounting for 12.5 percent of the total, the lowest since 2008.
With the steady increase in the aged population and the drop in the number of youths, the average age of the population climbed to a record high of 42.6 years, compared with 42.1 years in 2018 and 37 years in 2008. (Yonhap)