SEOUL, April 28 (Yonhap) -- The number of babies born in South Korea fell to a record low in February, data showed Wednesday, underscoring the country's chronically low birth rate.
A total of 21,461 babies were born in February, down 5.7 percent from a year earlier, according to the data compiled by Statistics Korea.
It marked the lowest for any February since 1981, when the statistics agency began compiling related data.
South Korea is struggling with a sustained fall in childbirths as many young people delay marriage or give up on getting married or having babies amid a prolonged economic slowdown.
The country's total fertility rate -- the average number of children a woman bears in her lifetime -- hit a new record low of 0.84 last year. It marked the third straight year that the rate was below 1 percent.
The number of deaths came to 23,774 in February, down 6.5 percent from a year earlier.
This resulted in the country's population declining by 2,313, marking the 16th straight month of fall.
South Korea reported the first natural decline in population last year as the number of deaths outpaced that of newborns amid the country's rapid aging and low birth rate.
Meanwhile, the number of couples getting married declined to a record low in February as the pandemic delayed the timing of weddings amid the downtrend in marriages.
The number of people tying the knot declined 21.6 percent on-year to 14,973, the data showed.
It marked the lowest for any January since 1981, when the agency began compiling related data. It also represented the sharpest on-year decline ever.
Divorces fell 5.7 percent on-year to 7,759 in February.