Planificación familiar en Corea del Sur

South Korean family planning

South Korean government workers are being told to 'go home and multiply'. Tonight the Ministry of Health, concerned about the country's falling birth rate, will force staff to leave the office early and return to their loved ones.

Reporter: John Sudworth

Listen to the story

Forget that still unwritten report or the backlog of paperwork building up on the desk, on this cold and rainy mid-week night there can be no excuses to stay late in the office. South Korea's Ministry of Health, Welfare and Family Affairs will be turning off all the lights at 7pm in a bid to force staff to go home to their families and, well, make bigger ones. It will repeat the experiment once a month.

The country now has one of the world's lowest birth rates, lower even than neighbouring Japan, and boosting the number of newborn children is a priority for this government, staring into the abyss of a rapidly ageing society, falling levels of manpower and spiralling health care costs.

The Ministry of Health, now sometimes jokingly referred to as the 'Ministry of Matchmaking', is in charge of spearheading that drive and it clearly believes its staff should lead by example. Generous gift vouchers are on offer for officials who have more than one child and the department organises social gatherings in the hope of fostering love amongst its bureaucrats. But critics say what is really needed is wide-scale reform to tackle the burdensome cost of childcare and education that puts many young people off from starting a family.

John Sudworth, BBC News, Seoul

Listen to the words

the backlog or paperwork building up papeleo atrasado que se está acumulando

birth rates los índices de natalidad

boostingaumentar

staring into the abyss(que está) enfrentando una situación difícil (frente a un abismo)

rapidly ageing society una población que está envejeciendo (y no llega gente menor a reemplazarla)

falling levels of manpower niveles decrecientes de mano de obra

spirallingcrecientes (cada vez más caros)

spearheading that drive(a cargo de) dirigir el plan

fostering love amongst its bureaucratsfomentar amoríos entre sus empleados

burdensomeagobiante