The Korea Herald


7 'ghost babies' born this year confirmed dead

6 babies died of disease, while one suspected as infanticide

By Lee Jaeeun

Published : Aug. 16, 2023 - 17:33

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First Vice Health Minister Lee Ki-il speaks during a meeting on Aug. 9 in Seoul. (Newsis) First Vice Health Minister Lee Ki-il speaks during a meeting on Aug. 9 in Seoul. (Newsis)

South Korean had 144 unregistered babies born between January and May this year, among them at least six babies have died and another an alleged infanticide, the government said Wednesday.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare announced that it had discovered a total of 144 babies born between January and May this year in local hospitals but had not been included in the country's birth registration system. It began the investigation into those babies' whereabouts on July 28.

Of the 144 babies, birth registrations were completed for 92 babies in Korea after the ministry contacted the parents, two were registered overseas, and 19 will soon be registered. Six babies have died of disease, according to local governments. A separate case was confirmed as an input error by a medical institution.

The police were asked by local governments to investigate the whereabouts of 24 babies because there was a lack of information or suspected criminal activity involved. Among those 24 babies, eight babies were confirmed to be alive and one baby was allegedly killed. The dead baby’s parents have been referred to the prosecution after being investigated by the police. The remaining 15 cases are under police investigation.

"In order to minimize a blind spot in government oversight regarding ‘ghost babies,’ the government will continue to prepare and implement necessary measures," said First Vice Health Minister Lee Ki-il.

A government probe into the so-called ghost babies found that among the 2,123 unregistered babies born between 2015 and 2022, 249 babies had died, Health Ministry data showed.