North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, famous for his eccentric statements, spoke at the first National Mothers’ Meeting in 11 years held in Pyongyang, emphasising the importance of mothers in preventing a decline in birth rates. He framed it as a collective responsibility to strengthen national power. Kim got emotional during his speech while women in the audience were seen sobbing as well.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un looked emotional and wiped his eyes at a meeting of mothers, state television showed.— NoComment (@nocomment) December 7, 2023
Kim made speeches at the start and end of the event, drawing attention with a call for more births and more children in his socialist state. pic.twitter.com/4YuLjtIdHG
Addressing the women as “Dear Mothers”, he pleaded with them to fulfill their role as birth-givers against the rising concerns of a drop in the North Korean birth rate. “Preventing a decline in birth rates and good childcare are all of our housekeeping duties we need to handle while working with mothers,” Kim was quoted as saying by the news agency Reuters at the event for mothers in Pyongyang on Sunday.
He also thanked mothers for their role in strengthening national power.
“I too always think about mothers when I have a hard time dealing with the party and the state’s work,” Kim said.
Experts highlight the unique societal challenges influencing North Korea’s fertility decline, noting Kim Jong Un’s public appearances with his daughter, Ju Ae, as potential efforts to encourage family values.
His pleas reflect the government’s determination to the cause of counterbalance South Korea’s older population.
The United Nations Population Fund estimates that as of 2023, the fertility rate, or the average number of children being born to a woman, stood at 1.8 in North Korea, amid an extended fall in the rate during recent decades.
The decline in fertility has been attributed to various factors, including urbanisation, delayed marriage, and women’s participation in the workforce.
However, North Korea’s birth rate is still higher than most of its neighbours. The fertility rate remains higher than in some of North Korea’s neighbours, which have been grappling with a similar downward trend.
South Korea saw its fertility rate drop to a record low of 0.78 last year, while Japan saw its figure drop to 1.26.