Odd News Show

Sperm Banking: Seoul Government Offers Money for Procedures to Combat Plummeting Birth Rate

South Korea has the lowest birthrate in the world (and still falling)—in Seoul, where the population is both congregating and aging, reversing a vasectomy will now come with a monetary incentive.

By Katie Compa · May 31, 2024

A little snip-snip, tape-tape ought to take care of it! Philippa Willitts/Flickr

Seoul, South Korea, a city of almost ten million, is world-famous as a thriving metropolis (official name: Seoul Special City, which, hello, is awesome—we plan to petition several metropolitan mayors to pursue similar renaming for their cities that don’t involve a corporate sponsor). It’s also drawing new residents from the countryside in search of educational and job opportunities.

Hello, Seoul Special City!  Trey Ratcliff/Flickr

Population density in the capital region is so high, in fact, that it’s driving up the cost of living, fueling a housing shortage, and encouraging workaholism—certainly not anything we’re familiar with in the United States, the “greatest” “country” in the world—to the point that Koreans who live there are opting out of having children completely, because they’re simply too expensive. 

That sound you just heard was parents worldwide saying in unison, “Amen!”   Images Money/Flickr

The Korean birthrate is 0.78; economists say a rate of 2.1 is needed for economic stability. Korea’s low rate means that as the population in Seoul continues to age and retire, and require more care, there may be no next generation to take available jobs, run the city, and care for its elderly residents. Seoul’s population could fall by more than 2 million in the near future. Korea does not have a lot of immigration, which has helped bolster other countries around the world with lowering birthrates.

To combat this, the local government is turning to a tried-and-true method: throwing money at the problem. Men in the Seoul region will soon have the cost of reversing their vasectomies subsidized by the government. 

To us, that seems like less than half the battle. Most men who have had vasectomies have already had their desired number of children, even if it’s zero, plus—for now, at least—it still takes two to tango and to reproduce.

Also, we aren’t sure we see a problem with declining populations given the state of the climate and economies worldwide. We suggest instead putting that money toward developing the robot assistants you might recognize from such books and films as I, Robot, where absolutely nothing bad happens with the technology, and there is no attempted robot apocalypse. 100% upside!

Their logic is undeniable!  B/Flickr

The Seoul city government does have existing baby-making initiatives in place, including offering money toward egg freezing and infertility treatments for women and monthly stipends for families with young children. Seoul’s mayor, Oh Se-hoon, said earlier this year that Seoul might even launch a match-making program. Great! Love to live in modern times and have the government pick out my soul mate/parent of my children.

That's us on our special day, on the bottom right! Or wait, were we bottom left?  Jedimanetat44/Flickr

But making the prospect less attractive for women is Korean President Yoon Suk-Yeol, who has been busy working to accomplish one of his chief campaign promises: abolishing Korea’s gender equality ministry, despite the protests of both civilians and the United Nations. The ministry has seen major budget cuts since Yoon took office; it is currently without a leader, and measures of equality are backsliding across the board. 

Legislatively, women are underrepresented in the National Assembly (only 20%); economically, women are paid only 64 percent of what men earn in wages; legally, even though abortion has been decriminalized, they have no access to safe abortion services; and technologically, the country is a hotbed of deepfake and revenge porn that usually brings no punishment. Again, this does not sound at all familiar to Americans! Lalalalalalalalalala we can’t hear you!!!

Women in Korea are fed up—the ongoing inequality is giving rise not only to protests but to the 4B movement, where women reject dating, marriage, sex, and babies with men. But may we suggest saying YES to a fifth B: a bear?

Hey, girl. I won’t legislate against you, and I won’t post revenge porn. I can’t—I lack opposable thumbs.  Yathin S Krishnappa/Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this year, a private company, Booyoung Group, offered a whopping $75,000 dollars to its employees each time they have a baby, regardless of gender. Now thats an offer we’d consider.