North Korea Reports Low-Birthrate as COP28 Addresses Population Growth

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un reportedly cried while addressing the birth rate of the country. True?
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un reportedly cried while addressing the birth rate of the country. True?

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has been reported by various news outlets to have shed tears when mentioning the need for more children to be raised in the society during the Fifth National Conference of Mothers. Korea Times reported that he didn’t actually attend the Fifth National Conference of Mothers but sent gifts “in an apparent move to secure their loyalty amid a declining birth rate.” 

The birth rate in North Korea is lower than the global average at 1.8 births per woman/lifetime. The worldwide average is 2.3. “It is much lower than the replacement level of 2.1 that would keep North Korea’s population stable at 26 million,” says Korea Times.

If the birth rate is sustained at numbers below the replacement level of a country, it could end up with a lower population over time after death rates and emigration/immigration are calculated. 

Around the world, Taiwan has the lowest birth rate at 1.09/woman/lifetime and the country with the highest birth rate is Niger, at 6.73, according to the CIA World Fact Book

A United Nations Population Fund article “The Problem with Too Few,” says, “Despite fears that soon there will be ‘too few’ people to sustain our economies, services and societies, experts say falling birth rates do not spell disaster. Instead, they are hallmarks of demographic transition and correlate with rising lifespans.

“Since 1950, global average lifespans have increased by almost 28 years (from 45.51 to 73.16 in 2023), accompanied by a decline in global fertility from an average of 5 births per woman in 1950 to 2.3 births per woman in 2021.”

This logic seems simplistic. If the births decline significantly, there is a smaller opportunity for the country to advance. Each country can only produce so many of the professionals in industries that spur growth, so fewer births means fewer people entering any field. This while people who’ve achieved longer lifespans have mostly retired from the workforce.

Then with the increase in debilitating mental illnesses, the talent pool suffers further.

But even if countries like North Korea are dismayed at low birthrates, many still see it as a good thing, one of the “hallmarks of demographic transition.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blink said in a press release from the COP28 climate change symposium in Qatar about population growth: 

“A growing population means the global demand for food is likely to increase by an estimated 50 percent by the year 2050. An escalating climate crisis means that crop yields could drop by as much as 30 percent over that same period.  So do the math:  We’ll be feeding more and more people on a planet where growing food will become harder and harder.” 

That might be true, but it also leaves out important information, such as the fact that 40% of food produced in the United States is thrown away from restaurants, stores and food producers themselves, according to Harvard University

“In the U.S., up to 40% of all food produced goes uneaten, and about 95% of discarded food ends up in landfills. It is the largest component of municipal solid waste at 21%. In 2014, more than 38 million tons of food waste was generated, with only 5% diverted from landfills and incinerators for composting.”

Food waste is also a climate-change issue. Also from Harvard: 

“Decomposing food waste produces methane, a strong greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. Worldwide, one-third of food produced is thrown away uneaten, causing an increased burden on the environment. It is estimated that reducing food waste by 15% could feed more than 25 million Americans every year.”

So while the State Department is correlating population growth with food insecurity, that isn’t accurate. What is more accurate is that population growth, or rather population control, is connected with is eugenics. 

It’s perhaps for this reason that the term “population control” is out of favor. From the State Department, “The United States is the world’s largest donor to both maternal health and family planning programs. The U.S. does not endorse population “stabilization” or “control.” The “ideal” family size should be determined by the desires of couples, not governments. The U.S. strongly opposes coercive population programs.”

It’s climate change that is becoming the coercive population program.  

A research paper called “The politics of population: birth control and the eugenics movement” from the National Center for Biotechnology Information states, “Population control [in the past] referred to a large-scale social policy of limiting births throughout a whole society or in certain groups for the purpose of changing economic, ecological and/or political conditions.”

When talking about depopulation, population growth or population control, whether in the context of climate change or eugenics the purpose remains to change “economic, ecological and/or political conditions.”

Because what is being said at COP28 is vague, it’s difficult to discern which initiatives are being discussed seriously and which will eventually become law.

IP Correspondent