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[News Focus] Number of men per 100 women slides to 99.4 in Korea

Men’s population marks 46-month low in February

This photo shows an Arbor Day event in Daegu, where the number of men per 100 women stood at 97.32 as of February 2021 in its demographic structure. (Daegu City)
This photo shows an Arbor Day event in Daegu, where the number of men per 100 women stood at 97.32 as of February 2021 in its demographic structure. (Daegu City)

SEJONG -- South Korea’s demographic slide since December 2019 is mainly attributed to continuous decline in the male population, while the female population has recorded both positive or negative growth on-month.

The situation has pulled down the nation’s sex ratio -- the number of men per 100 women -- to an all-time low of 99.41, according to the data held by the Ministry of Interior and Safety.

The male population posted 25.836 million in February, down 1,951 from a month earlier. The figure marked the lowest in nearly four years, since it reached 25.836 million in April 2017.

After peaking at 25.868 million in July 2019, the men’s population declined for the 19th consecutive month, which was the unprecedented since the nation started compiling the relevant data.

Last month, Seoul had the biggest decline in the male population, which fell 5,717 on-month to 4.69 million. The capital has led the nationwide drop in demographic figures for more than a year.
(Kim Sun-young/The Korea Herald)
(Kim Sun-young/The Korea Herald)

Daegu ranked second with minus 1,412, followed by Ulsan with minus 1,212, South Gyeongsang Province with minus 1,088, Busan with minus 987, Daejeon with minus 733, North Jeolla Province with minus 630 and Gwangju with minus 598.

The next rankers were Gangwon Province with minus 541, Incheon with minus 394, North Chungcheong Province with minus 306, South Jeolla Province with minus 243, North Gyeongsang Province with minus 217 and South Chungcheong Province with minus 69.

The month-on-month figures for the male population climbed only in three areas -- Gyeonggi Province (by 11,204), Jeju Province (120) and Sejong (826) -- of the 17 major cities and provinces across the nation.

In contrast, the women’s population inched up 161 from a month earlier to reach 25.987 million as of February 2021, a similar level to July 2020, though it peaked at 25.99 million in September.

As a result, Korea’s sex ratio has changed drastically in recent years.

Women began outstripping men in June 2015, with 25.7157 million female Koreans as against 25.7153 million for males, when the gender ratio dropped to 99.9, -- the first time in history it had dropped below 100, based on official statistics.

The female population was higher than the figure for men by 151,020 last month, under which the sex ratio stayed at the record-low of 99.41.

“This suggests that Korean women, who have longer lifespan than Korean men will continue to widen the gap in population,” said a demographic researcher in Sejong.

Seoul posted the lowest ratio of males to females, 94.5 per 100 or 4.69 million to 4.95 million. Women in the capital have tended to outnumber men for more than a decade.

Busan ranked second-lowest with a sex ratio of 95.9, followed by Daegu at 97.3. Gwangju ranked fourth-lowest with the ratio of 97.9, followed by North Jeolla Province at 98.8, Daejeon at 99.6 and Sejong at 99.7.

Nonetheless, the remaining 10 of the 17 major areas in Korea still saw men outnumber women. In this regard Ulsan, a manufacturing-oriented city, topped the list with a sex ratio of 105.7.

The second and third-highest were South Chungcheong Province with 104.2 and North Chungcheong Province with 102.8.

Gyeonggi Province -- the nation’s most populous area with 13.47 million as of February -- posted a sex ratio of 101.2 with 6.77 million males and 6.69 million females.

Other areas whose gender ratio exceeded 100 included Incheon, Jeju Province, South Gyeongsang Province and North Gyeongsang Province.

By Kim Yon-se (