SEOUL, June 23 (Yonhap) -- The number of babies born in South Korea declined to a fresh record low in April, data showed Wednesday, underpinning the country's gloomy demographic situation with the chronically low birth rate.
A total of 22,820 babies were born in April, down 2.2 percent from the previous year, according to the data compiled by Statistics Korea.
It marked the lowest for any April 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.
In the first quarter, the total fertility rate reached 0.88, the lowest level since 2009, when the agency started compiling related data.
In April, the number of deaths rose for the second straight month amid rapid aging.
The number of deaths came to 25,087 in the month, up 1.7 percent from a year earlier, the data showed.
This resulted in the country's population declining by 2,267, marking the 18th 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.
Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said the country may face an "age quake" starting in 2030-40, an earthquake-like demographic shock from a fall in population and social aging, if it does not tackle demographic challenges in a timely manner.
South Korea's working-age population will likely decline an average of 330,000 per year in the 2020s when baby boomers, born from 1955-1963, will reach over age 65, according to government data.
Meanwhile, the number of couples getting married rebounded in April due largely to last year's low base.
The number of people tying the knot rose 1.2 percent on-year to 15,861, the data showed.
In April 2020, the number of couples getting married declined 21.8 percent on-year, the sharpest-ever fall as the pandemic prompted people to delay the timing of weddings.
Divorces fell 2.4 percent on-year to 9,038 in April, the data showed.