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Why people don't like babies anymore

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It is not news that South Korea is facing a population crisis. But how much of this crisis is about logistics and life choices, and how much of it is about perceptions? Unsplash
By Amanda Price

A curious seven-month-old child, with a headful of disheveled curls, crawls inelegantly across the room. His arms and his legs do not seem to understand that the matter is urgent. Reaching his far-off destination, he stares at a shiny object that, from his expression, may as well be the Holy Grail. Picking up a silver plate, he stares at the image before him. Undoubtedly, it is another child who has come to play.

As he waves his every appendage in unbridled delight, the friend in the plate disappears. Dismayed, the little one looks at the plate again only to find his friend has returned. Waves of ecstasy rise up again, and his diminutive arms and legs flail with the tide. The plate falls to the rug as his little hands curl and uncurl.

The friend is now gone again and so is the joy. The sense of loss, especially that of a friend, begins as a quiver that spreads across his whole face. There is a pause, and then there are tears. The cuddly man who loves him, picks him up and pats his back in a way that soothes his pain.

The tears stop flowing as the smell of the cuddly man who loves him, and the warmth of his gigantic embrace, assure the little one that all will be well. He rests his wee head on his Daddy's shoulder and thinks about everything, nothing and all the things in between.

In a moment his eyelids decide to close. He fights to keep them open, but they ignore his every attempt. Nestling into the warmth that envelops him, his tiny lips curl up at the end. The wee bairn does not fight it. It is the smile of one perfectly content, perfectly safe and perfectly loved.

An increasing number of South Korean men and women are not swayed by images of cuddly infants or the possibilities of happy family moments.

The costly reality behind these moments, in their opinion, outweighs the pleasures that parenthood and marriage are meant to offer.

Families and babies are not as appealing as they once were.

Being "clucky" is going out of style in South Korea and the prospect of happy families is falling into myth.

The reasons for this alarming baby-unfriendly response, prevalent among large sectors of the younger generations, have been dissected and discussed ad infinitum.

Those most often mentioned are the demanding and hyper-competitive job market, massive time deficits, discrimination against married women in the workplace, the economic costs of raising and educating children, a culture where fathers do what they want and mothers do what they are told, a desire among women to be able to........

© The Korea Times