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SOUTHKOREA-AGEING/
RTXAH4D1
March 15, 2021
At 10 years old, Lyoo Chan-hee wishes he wasn't one of the last three schoolkids left playing on the...
BORYEONG, South Korea
The Wider Image: The last children on South Korea's ageing island
At 10 years old, Lyoo Chan-hee wishes he wasn't one of the last three schoolkids left playing on the beaches of Nokdo island. "It would be great if I have more friends here because I can have more options to play," said Chan-hee. Instead, he often plays with Kim Si-young - aged 66, and one of the last 100 or so residents of a once-vibrant fishing village emblematic of the demographic crisis unfolding in South Korea. Away from the beach and Chan-hee, Kim leafed through a photo album showing a sun-splashed school sports day - images of hundreds of people toasting children with rice wine that brought tears to his eyes. The prints are 40 years old and fading, just like the prospects for Nokdo, about a 75-minute ferry ride off South Korea's west coast. After decades of national urbanisation, and a long-gone birth control drive, Nokdo's school is long shut. Nokdo's decline encapsulates the demographic slump that was the population of Asia's fourth-largest economy drop for the first time last year. It has become the world's fastest-ageing society with the lowest birth rate anywhere in 2020, according to the World Bank. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji SEARCH "NOKDO AGEING " FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY Matching Text: SOUTHKOREA-AGEING/
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