Chosun Ilbo: Koreans ‘to Become Extinct by 2750′

In today’s lead story at the Chosun Ilbo (Korean), the National Assembly Research Service announced the results of a projection based on a simulation that Korea’s population faces extinction by 2750 if the current low birthrate persists.  A New Politics Alliance for Democracy lawmaker, Yang Seung-jo, requested the projection.

The National Assembly Research Service based its projection on the assumption and apparently assumed that last year’s birthrate of 1.19 children per woman would continue.  “David Coleman of Oxford University warned back in 2006 that Korea’s low birthrate is so serious that it could become the first nation in the world to become extinct.”

Under the National Research Service’s projection, Korea’s present population of 50 million will contract to 40 million in 2056, to 20 million (“similar to the population in 1930 during the Japanese occupation”) in 2100, to 10 million by 2136, to three million by 2200, to one million by 2256, “…gradually becoming extinct over the next 500 years.”

The National Assembly Research Service on Friday said, “should last year’s birthrate of 1.19 children per woman continue, Korea’s population of 50 million will… become extinct by 2750.”

excerpted the following from the Chosun Ilbo article:

Barring a major population migration within the country, the southern port city of Busan would be the first to become empty of people, according to the simulation. The last survivor of Busan will be born in 2413, and the last Seoulite in 2505.  Busan is not only graying rapidly, but is seeing a rapid decrease in the number of young and middle-aged residents.


The National Assembly Research Service apparently employed a sophisticated algorithm in formulating their projection.  I spent considerable time between two consecutive sips of coffee to reverse engineer their algorithm from their results.  The  assumed 1.19 birthrate per woman means that the number of new births would halve with each generation.  Halving 50 million a little over 25 (∼25.76) times results in one.  So in approximately 25 generations, and if I assume 30 years per generation, or 750 years from now, Koreans will become extinct on the Korean peninsula.  That’s how the “simulation” projected the year 2750.

Absurdity such as the above is the reason I belabor methodology in my posts about studies.  Every bit as important as results is the methodology in obtaining those results.  I can make any study say anything I want by altering the methodology.

…which brings me to the real points of this blog entry:

  1. To what end did the NPAD lawmaker want the results of this study to show that Koreans will go extinct by 2750?  (Follow the money, but to where will it lead?)
  2. Why did a newspaper whose ideology so closely aligns with the rival Saenuri Party publish such a ridiculous result for this NPAD lawmaker?  (OK, this one might be easy.)
  3. How do I gets me some of that government large-ass for publishing studies with results so transparently beholden to some interest that any sense of shame I would normally feel is easily assuaged by that sweet large-ass?  (Seriously.)
  • Ewnerd Nasalo

    It’s kinda like the Chosun Ilbo wants to give the finger to its own readers by insulting their intelligence. I can only hope the hacks responsible for this are thoroughly lambasted.

  • SeoulGoodman

    In 735 years, many things will change, regardless of birthrate.

  • Aja Aja

    Who cares. I’ll be long dead by then.

  • http://kuiwon.wordpress.com/ Kuiwon

    When I first read that headline I thought the article meant to say 2150.

  • Sumo294

    But his fatness–Al Gore–said we will all fry to a crisp by 2020–and women will all be owning fur coats from all the animals that die from heat exhaustion. People say, “Let us eat and drink today for tomorrow we will certainly die”. Say it ain’t so!

  • RElgin

    Well, mayhap that will wreck havoc upon the Chosun’s readership.

  • redwhitedude

    Nice fluff piece. What is it suppose to do? Sow panic among Koreans?

  • kaizenmx

    Pretty sure nuclear wars would be more of a possibility by that time or before so who cares.

  • wangkon936

    I’m sure by 2750 mankind will discover more destructive weaponry than fusion H-bombs. There’s antimatter, miniature black holes, etc. Fusion bombs are so 20th century… 😛

  • Sumo294

    Wrong article Joe. This is the real one. The NAPD is positioning itself for an all get out street riots and protests. http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article/article.aspx?aid=2994044&cloc=joongangdaily|home|top They are positioning themselves as the victims. Then will be the victim’s march on the Blue House.

  • bumfromkorea
  • djson1

    Predicting gloom for the future should entail much more than just basic math (like this calculation of low birth ratios to come to this decreasing low number conclusion).

  • redwhitedude

    Yeah like aliens populating the earth.

  • SeoulGoodman

    I was thinking along the lines of how Korean culture will have changed to the point that Koreans may not identify as Korean anymore, or at least not in the eyes of Koreans now.

  • tatertot

    Arggh, people typing “wreck havoc” is one of my pet peeves!

  • Tapp

    My middle school in Busan has dropped an entire class per grade for the last 2 years. I know that intercity migration and altered attendance maps can have a huge affect on those numbers, but losing a total of 90 students or so out of 800 is pretty significant.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    miniature black holes wouldn’t really do much. In fact, you could place a massive black hole where our sun is and the earth wouldnt get sucked in. Miniature black holes would also evaporate in an instant.

  • wangkon936

    Not according to the infallible science of Star Trek!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wVEhafuF7A

  • Anonymous_Joe

    In fairness to me, that article in the Joongang Daily was published after I had published my blog entry. I did, however, see the story in broadcast media.

  • Bob Bobbs

    I think you mean “re-populating.”

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    http://phys.org/news/2011-05-mini-black-holes-atoms-earth.html

    “In a new study, scientists have proposed that mini black holes may interact with matter very differently than previously thought. If the proposal is correct, it would mean that the time it would take for a mini black hole to swallow the Earth would be many orders of magnitude longer than the age of the Universe.”

    Very poor weapons.

  • http://www.bcarr.com/ Brendon Carr

    Given the enthusiasm for plastic surgery that makes Korean faces look like grey aliens, I expect Koreans will enthusiastically sign up for the Singularity.

  • piratariaazul

    Considering that Korean companies are generally very bad at strategic planning (actually, any planning), I am glad to see someone bucking the trend.
    :-)

  • RElgin

    Hey, are you clear?

  • Sumo294

    I don’t care if you develop it–I am far to busy working on my projects to give much time to blog type stuff. Reading and commenting now and then is relaxing to me.

  • redwhitedude

    Yeah. Koreans by then will be different than now.

  • redwhitedude

    They’ll “graduate” to genetic engineering instead of the messy business of plastic surgery in artificially altering features.

  • redwhitedude

    Come to think of it. The world will probably populated by Africans.

  • redwhitedude

    Not really.

  • Truthseed

    Well, taking the study at face value for the moment, it’s a grim reminder of what happens when a country loses sight of its true priorities, and embraces false ideals. Whether Koreans will actually become extinct by a certain date isn’t really the point. The fact is that RIGHT NOW Korean birth rates are at below replacement levels (consistent with other wealthy nations) which has grave consequences in all areas of society.

    For all its wealth and advanced technologies, South Korea has failed morally and spiritually, just like all the other advanced western nations. They are receiving their due punishment. And very likely, there will be more to come.

  • piratariaazul

    Birth rates are not static. They move up and down in response to environmental factors. Very silly to treat it like a biological constant. For example, birth rates tend to go up after major wars. Taking the current birth rate and extrapolating 500 years forward is assuming nothing else will change for the next 500 years….

    GIGO indeed.

  • piratariaazul

    Something like North-South reunification is likely to affect birth rates.

  • redwhitedude

    Not sure. Perhaps in the short term but in the longrun NK will be subjected to the same socio economic situation as SK. It may delay the population decline.

    One thing that might help is for Koreans to back off the education obsession and take a more utiliterian approach of the Americans and/or adopt the apprenticeship system of the Germans. The way things are going it adds undue expense in education that might deter people from having more kids. Easier said than done plus there is vested interest in keeping things the way they are such as those hagwons and certain people within the educational system.

  • redwhitedude

    Oh yeah. There’s always a possibility of a second Korean war.

    Any prediction beyond 50 years is a wild guess. A likelier scenario is that Koreans in 2750 will be more mixed racially.

  • redwhitedude

    You if you wait 3-4 Billion years the milky way and the andromeda galaxy will collide. There’s a possibility earth will get ejected.

  • SeoulGoodman

    I figured you wouldn’t get it since you lawyers love to throw Latin around as if it isn’t a dead language. 😉

  • piratariaazul

    As Yogi Berra said, it’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.

  • piratariaazul

    I think post-reunification population dynamics will be a bit more complicated than that, if you look at what happened in East/West Germany.

  • redwhitedude

    I find it amusing that PGH held up the German Reunification as a model to follow. Really? Look at all those easterners who feel they are getting 2nd rate German treatment. She’s practically telling NKoreans we’ll reunify and treat you like 2nd rate Koreans. Nice job dumb b*tch! I’m wondering if she has a clue on whether she has a policy. Of course NK will get treated as 2nd rate Koreans anyways but really do you have to say it.

  • Truthseed

    Birth rates generally correlate to personal and national wealth, as well as religious belief. I made no prediction whatsoever (hence, “whether or not Koreans will actually become extinct by a certain date is beside the point”), nor have I assumed anything for the future, based on the current birth rate. Again, low birth rates are indicative of a general social disorder, which is pronounced in wealthy, liberalized, modernized societies.

  • piratariaazul

    Well, look at the bright side. The folks from Cholla Province will have someone they can look down upon…. Sad, but provincialism will live on.

  • Dan Strickland

    Let’s see if I can make my favorite response to this work here: http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/extrapolating.png

  • redwhitedude

    Provincialism isn’t going anywhere. At least the country isn’t being torn apart like Iraq because of it.

  • fintan stack

    Never mind the situation in 700+ years, China will completely absorb Korea within 50-75 years.

  • yuna_at_marmotshole

    Um, no.
    Hasn’t happened for like, I don’t know, ever?

  • wangkon936

    You have obviously never picked up a history book.

  • 3point49

    It would be great if you can use punctuation. For example, “is the reason I….” or “sense of shame I….”. It is good to see you try to be hopelessly sarcastic. Using better punctuation might not make you better at sarcasm but it will certainly add some flow and meaning to your personal critique on subject at hand.

    Thanks.

  • Anonymous_Joe

    Sarcasm?

  • Dokdoforever

    It makes sense to calculate what an ideal population for the Korean peninsula should be….where there is enough space for people to live comfortable lives and enjoy the outdoors. Population growth might also be a bad idea for one of the most densely populated countries in the world, especially over 700 years. At just 1.7% growth per year Korea would have a population of around 7 billion people. Wow.. imagine trying to go to Home Plus on the weekend if the present world population lived in Korea! It would be a whole new level of stress.

  • http://www.xlgames.com/ Avaast

    There is only one who can save us from the planet-destroying corporatist hell that is to come…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_i6gk9-3_M

  • redwhitedude

    Considering that the CCP has induced demographic suicide on China the population will be declining within the next 50 years in China….
    No. The last time China tried to absorb Korea it was beaten back. Actually it was a logistical pain in the ass for the chinese to try that.

  • redwhitedude

    Yes and your grave will long be plowed over by then.

  • wangkon936

    Why such projections are pure bull shit.

    http://ourfiniteworld.com/2012/12/12/why-malthus-got-his-forecast-wrong/

    You seem Malthus got his population projections wrong because he assumed things would stay the same (i.e. birth rates, food production, technology, etc.) in perpetuity.

    Things are in flux and do not stay static in perpetuity. There could be, for example, a change in policy or culture that makes having more than 1.2 babies more attractive. Perhaps the population does decline to a point where people want more children and then the population rebounds with a vengeance (i.e in most of the Western world just after WWII, for example). Perhaps translation technology will put a chip in peoples’ tongues so they can speak whatever language they want fluently, and that greatly reduces children’s education costs, etc. whatever.

    The point is that doomsday scenarios are scary and fun, but seldom the reality unless there is a tremendous external cause like the Black Death plague or an asteroid or comet racing to destroy the earth. Populations/nations/cultures tend to make the adjustment well before the doomsday scenario comes to fruition.

    IMHO, the New Politics Alliance for Democracy lawmaker should have taken the money used to do this bogus study and should have commissioned a different study to see how the government can help lower the costs of raising children (the vast bulk of which is educational expenses), encouraging more positive immigration, etc. That would have been a far better use of time and money than this idiotic “study.”