SEOUL, July 28 (Yonhap) -- The number of babies born in South Korea dropped to a new record low in May, data showed Wednesday, in the latest sign that underscores the country's gloomy demographic situation.
A total of 22,052 babies were born in May, down 3.5 percent from the previous year, according to the data compiled by Statistics Korea.
It marked the lowest for any May since 1981, when the statistics agency began compiling related data.
South Korea is struggling with a sustained fall in childbirths as many young people 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 this year, the total fertility rate stood at 0.88, the lowest level since 2009, when the agency started compiling related data.
Adding woes to the demographic situation, the number of deaths in May rose for the third straight month amid rapid aging.
The number of deaths came to 25,571 in the month, up 5 percent from a year earlier, the data showed.
This resulted in the country's population decreasing by 3,518, marking the 19th consecutive month of decline.
South Korea reported the first natural decline in population in 2020 as the number of deaths outpaced that of newborns.
The number of people tying the knot in May fell 11 percent on-year to 16,153, while divorces declined 5.4 percent to 8,445 over the same period, according to the data.
BTS heads to New York for U.N. event as special presidential envoy
Moon to visit U.S. for U.N. session, alliance event
(LEAD) Moon proposes formal end to Korean War for irreversible progress in denuclearization efforts
Yoon says he will request redeployment of U.S. tactical nukes in case of emergency
(LEAD) N. Korea rejects Moon's proposal of end-of-war declaration as 'premature'
BTS returns home after visit to U.N., New York
Daily new cases touch new high of 2,434 on surge after holiday
'Squid Game' exposes social realities, much like 'Parasite'
(2nd LD) Kim Yo-jong calls Moon's war-end declaration offer 'admirable idea,' demands end to hostile policy
(LEAD) USFK makes public Teak Knife surgical strike drill amid N.K. military moves