Population Changes in South Korea

Population Changes in South Korea

South Korea’s birth rate has fallen for the first time in its history. As a high-income country, South Korea is battling an ageing population and low birth-rates.

An ageing population is when more people than ever live longer, often with more complex medical conditions. An ageing population increases the dependency ratio and means that the government has to pay more in benefits to people who often do not have the ability to pump money back into the economy.

The latest census (a count of all people and households) figures indicate South Korea’s total population stood at 51,829,023 at the end of December 2020. This is a reduction of 20,838 from the previous year.

Over the previous decade, South Korea’s population had increased every year, although that growth rate had decreased by 1.49% in 2010 to 0.05% by 2019.

During 2020 the country recorded 275,815 births in 2020, compared with 307,764 deaths.

If current trends persist, the government predicts South Korea’s population will drop to 39 million by 2067, when more than 46% of the population will be aged over 64.

Demographic transition

The animation below shows changes in South Korea’s population structure between 1950 and 2019. The animation clearly shows an increase in life expectancy (more people living to an older age) and a decrease in the proportion of younger people (as the birth rate decreases).

South Korea is undergoing an extreme, rapid example of what demographers (people who study population) call ‘demographic transition’. This is a period of population growth, decline and eventual stabilisation that occurs as countries get richer. For South Korea, this means both a large, rapidly ageing population and a low marriage and birth rate that don’t adequately replace the dying generations.

The demographic transition model attempts to show the population changes a country experiences as it develops.

In later stages of the demographic transition, health care improvements generally lead to a population with an extended life expectancy. That is exactly what is happening in South Korea, where life expectancy has increased rapidly in the second half of the 20th Century amid industrialisation.

In the first half of the 1950s, life expectancy was just shorter than 42 years on average (37 for men, 47 for women). Today, the numbers look radically different. South Korea now has one of the world’s highest life expectancies – ranked twelfth highest for 2015-2020, equal with Iceland. The average baby born in South Korea can now expect to live to 82 years (specifically 79 for men, and 85 for women).

In contrast, the global average is 72 years (nearly 70 for men, 74 for women).

In 1950, less than 3% of the population were aged 65 and over. Today, that number is at 15%. By the mid-2060s, the UN forecasts the percentage of those older than 65s will peak at more than 40%. The numbers paint a picture of a very aged society.

And with low birth rates, fewer marriages and longer lives, the trends combine to create a South Korean population that is actually ageing faster than any other developed country.

Why is South Korea’s population in decline?

South Korea has the lowest fertility rate in the world.

The average South Korean woman has just 1.1 children, lower than any other country. (For contrast, the global average is around 2.5 children.) This rate has been declining steadily: between the early 1950s and today, the fertility rate in South Korea dropped from 5.6 to 1.1 children per woman.

One reason for this is because, in South Korea, women struggle to achieve a balance between work and other life demands.

It has been suggested there is increasing opposition among South Korean women to conform to traditions of raising children and caring for ageing in-laws while husbands work.

South Korean women aren’t simply choosing to have fewer children – some are opting to forego romantic relationships entirely. An increasing number are choosing never to marry at all, turning their backs on legal partnerships – and even casual relationships – in favour of having independent lives and careers in what can still be a sexist society despite economic advances.

Soaring house prices are another major issue. Rapidly rising property prices mean a greater proportion of income is spent on mortgages. Also, young couples are put off having children because they are expensive to raise.

What issues are associated with a declining, ageing population?

Apart from increased pressure on public spending as demand for healthcare systems and pensions rise, a declining youth population also leads to labour shortages that directly impact the economy.

What is South Korea doing to address the issue of a declining, ageing population?

Like Japan, which also has a declining population, the government is under pressure to address the long-term issues caused by a rapidly ageing society.

The South Korean government recently announced initiatives to encourage couples to have bigger families, including a one-off payment of 1m won (£675) for pregnant women and monthly cash allowances for children aged under 12 months.

However, critics say the measures do little to tackle much bigger financial obstacles to having more children, such as high education and housing costs.

Short Answer Quizzes

With the increasing use of Google and Microsoft forms for remote learning, we’ve converted many of our multiple-choice booklets into Google and Microsoft forms for Internet Geography Plus subscribers to copy. Forms are self-marking which saves you time!

So far, Plus subscribers have access to all the AQA GCSE paper 1 and 2 quizzes, Edexcel A and B quizzes are being developed (there are several units for both specs) along with OCR.

We are also developing a bank of case study multiple choice quizzes too.

Case Study Multiple Choice Quizzes

Case Study Multiple Choice Quizzes

As well as developing a bank of multiple-choice quizzes in Microsoft and Google Forms format, we are also developing a collection of self-marking, short answer quizzes too. Over the coming weeks, there will be a large number of these quizzes added to the Plus area of Internet Geography. To illustrate what these quizzes will look like, and hopefully save you some time, we’re sharing one of these quizzes in Google and Microsoft Form format. Just click the links below to copy the quizzes (please ensure you are logged into your Google/Microsoft account before clicking the links).

Log in to access all the Microsoft/Google Forms or take out a low-cost annual subscription starting from just £20 per year.

Free Forms

Microsoft Forms: Coastal Processes – erosion, transportation and deposition

Google Forms: Coastal Processes – erosion, transportation and deposition

A Perfect Planet Classroom Resources

A Perfect Planet is a new TV series in which David Attenborough explore the forces that make life possible on planet Earth.

Episode 1 – Volcanoes

BBC iPlayer link

Classroom resources: 

Video questions

Episode 2 – The Sun

BBC iPlayer link

Classroom resources:

Video questions

Episode 3 – The Weather

BBC iPlayer link

Classroom resources:

Video questions – kindly shared by @MrsJeffsGg

New GCSE geography retrieval revision

We are developing a new, open access revision area on Internet Geography, to support students with  retrieval practice. The resources will consist of a bank of online gap-fill activities that students can use to revisit prior learning.

The activities will be freely available with no requirement to register, pay to access or log in.

Each gap-fill will come in two forms, an open gap fill where students need to recall keywords and factual information along with a drag and drop version. The two versions are illustrated below.


We’re seeking support from the geography teacher community to develop these revision activities by contributing a paragraph or two of text to summarise key elements of each GCSE geography unit across all exam boards.

When contributing just head over to the submission form and add your paragraph. When contributing your paragraph missing words should be enclosed within an asterisk. e.g. *Constructive* waves build beaches. These waves are more common in *summer* than in winter. Constructive waves predominate in calmer weather conditions when less energy is being transferred to the water. Each wave is low. As the wave *breaks* it carries material up the beach in its *swash*. The beach material will then be deposited as the backwash soaks into the sand or slowly drains away. When the next wave breaks its swash will deposit more material without it being ‘captured’ by the backwash of the preceding wave.

Alternative answers should be separated using a forward slash e.g. *conservative/passive* plate margins….

You can also add a tooltip (pop up hint) to support students with the answer by including a colon e.g. *conservative/passive:Where to plates slide past each other* plate boundaries.

To begin with will focus on one unit at a time for each exam specification. To avoid repetition please identify the paragraph you will complete on this Google Sheet. When you’ve submitted it using this form please indicate it has been completed on the Google Sheet.

If you’ve any questions, please contact by adding a comment below.

Many thanks,


One subject to unite all

Promote geography or just wind up your colleagues with these one subject to unite all graphics. Feel free to use them in your classroom!

You can also treat yourself to a sustainably made, ethical tote bag with these designs. Examples are below.

Light tote bag

One subject to unit all original

One subject to unite all blackOne subject to unite all white


Extinction The Facts

Internet Geography Plus

If you’ve not seen Extinction: The Facts yet, you must grab an hour to watch it. It’s available on iPlayer for a year. The legend that is David Attenborough, along with many experts, explore the issues relating to the decline in global biodiversity. With more synoptic links than you could shake a stick at the programme is divided into a series of sections:

  • An introduction to biodiversity (00.00 – 08.35 mins) 
  • Consequences of losing biodiversity (08.35 – 13.20 mins)
  • How are we destroying the ecosystems we depend on? (13.20 – 41.32 mins)
  • How did it come to this? (41.30 – 44.55)
  • What can we do to slow the decline in biodiversity? (44.55 – 51.42 mins)
  • Nature can bounce back – Poppy and the mountain gorillas (51.42 – 56.69 mins)

We’ve produced a worksheet containing questions that students can complete while watching the programme. It’s fully editable so you can adapt the resource for your students (we went a bit mad with the number of questions!). There is also a set of answers accompanying the resource.

We’ve brought you these free resources through the support of those who have subscribed to Internet Geography Plus. If you’ve not got one please consider taking out a low-cost subscription now or you could buy us a coffee.

If you download this resource and adapt it please send us a copy via [email protected]

Please don’t share this resource on other sites etc.

Download the question sheet

Download the answers

Download the refined list of questions by Nicola Price

Selwicks Bay Flamborough 360 Tour

Can’t take your students to Flamborough? Take Flamborough to your students!

Check out this virtual 360° tour of Selwicks Bay, Flamborough. The images were captured using a GoPro Max 360° camera.

We’re fund raising to develop more 360° tours like this. Our next project will be a 360° interactive tour of the River Tees. Please take a look at our Just Giving page.

Click the square in the navigation circle to go full screen.

Version 1.1

Version 1.0

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Subscribers to Internet Geography Plus help support the development of resources like this.


New Sea Defences at Withernsea

Through the support of Internet Geography Plus subscribers, we can bring you up to date case study information such as this. Please consider supporting us with an Internet Geography Plus subscription

Withernsea is a town located on the Holderness Coast in the East Riding of Yorkshire.

The front of Withernsea has extensive coastal defences including a sea wall, groynes and rock armour. To the south of Withernsea, the sea defences have been extended several times using rock armour. Beyond the sea defences, rates of erosion have increased because beach material is not being replaced as groynes trap sediment being transported by longshore drift along the front of Withernsea. As the beach in this area is very gently the North Sea reaches the base of the cliffs even during neap tides, leading to increased cliff erosion. This stretch of land is some of the most rapidly eroding along the Holderness Coast.

Withernsea - Terminal Groyne Effect

Withernsea – Terminal Groyne Effect (image was taken prior to the extension of rock armour in 2020)

The increased rate of erosion has led to the rapid loss of land, particularly along the front of the Golden Sands Holiday Park. More than 20-holiday homes have had to be either demolished or moved in the last few years. Also under threat is the main road connecting the village of Holmpton to the town of Withernsea. 

Erosion on this section of the Withernsea coastline has historically been at an average of around 4m per year, but in recent years this has increased to approximately 6m per year in places, with 2019 seeing around 12m of erosion opposite the frontage of the Golden Sands Holiday Park.

Erosion at Golden Sands Holiday Park between 2018 and 2020

To protect Holmpton Road, local houses and businesses being lost to coastal erosion, new sea defences have been installed. Four hundred metres of rock armour has been installed along this stretch of coast. During 2020 just under 70,000 tonnes of anorthosite, a rock similar to granite, was transported from Norway to the site off Golden Sands Holiday Park.  The project will protect about 70 homes and more than 250-holiday chalets and static caravans.

A £3m grant, which allowed the £7 million scheme to go ahead after other bids had failed, was provided by the European Regional Development Fund at the end of 2019.

The rock was transported from the quayside quarry in Rekefjord, on the southern coast of Norway, in 5000-tonne shipments by barge. The rocks were then dropped from the barge using heavy machinery when weather conditions were favourable. When the tide went out the rock was then transported up the beach. 

Rock being dropped from a barge

The majority of the rocks weigh between six and ten tonnes, but some reached as much as fifteen tonnes. The boulders were used to create an interlocking rock structure, designed to prevent the sea from eroding the cliffs. This is thought to be amongst the largest used in such defences around the UK.

Rocks of this size were required to withstand the rough seas that this stretch of coastline can experience, both now and in future, should climate change produce the expected worsening of sea conditions. Rock armour is an interlocking but porous structure that has proven to be effective at withstanding wave action, which is the primary cause of the areas rapid coastal erosion.

The cliffs to the south of Withernsea have been re-profiled, and rock armour has been placed onto the newly gently sloping cliffs and along their base. 

Cliff reprofiling and the first installation of rock armour

Construction started in May 2020 and was completed on 17th December 2020.

Completed coastal defences at Withernsea

Completed coastal defences at Withernsea on 17th December 2020.

It may take some time for aerial images on Google Maps to update to include the new rock armour at Withernsea, However, the image below shows the beachside outline of the new defences. In some places, the rock armour is 30m wide!

GPS outline of the new defences at Withernsea

GPS outline of the new defences at Withernsea

Rates of erosion are expected to increase to the south of the new defences.

Photo gallery

This gallery will be updated over the coming months. Feel free to use these images in your classroom. Please remember to credit www.internetgeography.net. If you would like to use these images in the public domain or for commercial purposes, please contact us.

Geography Reward GIFs

Following on from the popular geography reward cards/postcards, We’ve created a series of GIFs that can be sent to students electronically or used on social media. You can download these below.

To support Internet Geography during this difficult period, we’re offering you a limited opportunity to order personalised versions of these GIFs.

Your Work Has Been Lavaly







Your Work Is Top Notch


To support Internet Geography during this difficult period, we’re offering you a limited opportunity to order personalised versions of these GIFs.

Geography reward cards

Just started having a play with developing some reward postcards/cards that can be used to send to students during the lockdown period. I’ll be adding more over the coming days.

Geography Rewards Postcards

Download the postcard template

Download the card template

If you have any quality geography pun ideas please share via [email protected]