[Anchor Lead]New data shows that the number of newborns in South Korea fell to the lowest level last year. Concerns are rising that South Korea could face the so-called population cliff in the near future.[Pkg]This large hospital in Seoul was said to be where two percent of South Korean newborns were delivered until ten years ago. But now, half of the infant unit is empty.[Soundbite] Jeon Sun-young(Head Nurse, Infant Unit) : "At that time, we were very busy, since 20 or 30 newborns were admitted a day. Now, the number has considerably dropped, compared to ten years ago."406,000 babies were born in South Korea last year, the lowest level since related data began to be compiled in 1970. The number dropped by 30,000, the equivalent to a monthly average a year ago, which indicates that the nation saw no new births for a month.[Soundbite] Park Ji-eun(Pregnant Woman) : "People postpone marriage and have babies late, since they have to repay loans and are burdened with a large amount of expenses."[Soundbite] Kim Yeon-hwa(Expecting 3rd Child) : "500,000 won (USD $438) is the incentive for parents who have a third child. But the amount is not enough to cover postpartum care expenses."The declining birthrate is not an immediate problem but will have lasting effects on the nation's population structure over the following decades. The number of newborns has plunged, as more people are reluctant to get married, in a chronic problem facing South Korea. It is predicted that the nation will reach its so-called population cliff by 2031, which is less than 15 years away from now.
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