Korea to create dedicated population strategy ministry to combat low birth rate, aging society

Posted on : 2024-07-02 17:36 KST Modified on : 2024-07-02 17:36 KST
It will also resurrect the minister of political affairs position to facilitate communication between the executive and legislative branches
Interior and Safety Minister Lee Sang-min speaks at a joint briefing by relevant agencies on the creation of a new ministry dedicated to population planning and strategy at the government complex in Seoul on July 1, 2024. (Yonhap)
Interior and Safety Minister Lee Sang-min speaks at a joint briefing by relevant agencies on the creation of a new ministry dedicated to population planning and strategy at the government complex in Seoul on July 1, 2024. (Yonhap)

South Korea plans on creating a dedicated ministry for population strategy and planning to be overseen at the deputy prime minister level. The Yoon Suk-yeol administration also plans on resurrecting the long-defunct minister of political affairs position to facilitate communication with the National Assembly and various political parties.

Interior Minister Lee Sang-min announced these restructuring measures at the Seoul government complex on Monday. The population strategy and planning ministry, once up and running, will oversee all demographic matters, from low birth rate issues to aging society countermeasures and immigrant and labor force policies.  

“As a strong control tower that presides over strategy, planning and budget adjustments, the ministry will operate in a similar manner to an economic planning ministry,” Lee announced. 

The ministry will evaluate demographic policies and strategies and monitor budget allocations, while the minister will double as the deputy prime minister for social affairs. Specific policies and programs regarding fertility, child care and older Koreans will be implemented by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, while the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family will manage policies related to work-life balance. 

The government is using the move to upgrade its ability to implement demographic policies and mid- to long-term strategies. The new population ministry will take over the Health Ministry’s jurisdiction over policies and legislation pertaining to low birth rates and societal aging as well as the Ministry of Economy and Finance’s jurisdiction over mid– to long-term demographic strategies for national development. The new ministry will also have the authority to allocate and adjust budgets regarding programs to counter low birth rates, while also overseeing surveys, analysis and evaluations of relevant agencies’ policies for responding to Korea’s demographic crisis. 

President Yoon Suk-yeol speaks at a meeting of the Presidential Committee on Ageing Society and Population Policy held at the HD Hyundai Global R&D Center in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, on June 19. (pool photo) 
President Yoon Suk-yeol speaks at a meeting of the Presidential Committee on Ageing Society and Population Policy held at the HD Hyundai Global R&D Center in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, on June 19. (pool photo) 

Any time central or local governments implement or adjust programs related to battling low birth rates, they will need to obtain approval from the new population strategy ministry. The position of deputy prime minister for social affairs, currently held by the education minister, will be transferred to the population strategy minister. 

The Yoon administration is planning on introducing bills this month to amend the current Government Organization Act and the Framework Act on Low Birth Rate in an Aging Society to create the new agency.

The amendment to the Framework Act on Low Birth Rate in an Aging Society would likely give the population strategy ministry the authority to review and approve relevant budget allocations. It would also classify the current Presidential Committee on Ageing Society and Population Policy as an advisory council under the jurisdiction of the new agency’s minister. The amended Framework Act on Low Birth Rate in an Aging Society will be reworked into a framework act on “responding to the population crisis.”

The government reorganization will also resurrect the minister of political affairs. 

“We need a minister with the authority to mediate conflicts of interest regarding the public livelihood and key reform tasks, as well as facilitate communication between the government and the National Assembly,” the government said in its announcement. 

The background for the position’s return was explained as arising from the need for an organization that can quickly resolve issues that involve conflicting interests from multiple parties. The minister would carry out tasks directly ordered by the president, or tasks designated by the prime minister under order from the president. 

The Yoon administration explained that the minister would be granted the minimum number of staffers and assistants. To establish the position, the Yoon administration is expected to seek an amendment to the Government Organization Act, which will likely be submitted alongside the bill for creating the population strategy ministry. 

“We will work to ensure that the amendments to the Government Organization Act and the Framework Act on Low Birth Rate in an Aging Society are drafted and submitted to the National Assembly within the month of July,” the administration announced.

By Ki Min-do, staff reporter

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

button that move to original korean article (클릭시 원문으로 이동하는 버튼)

Related stories

Most viewed articles